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The Pentagon is recruiting civilians for high-level reconstruction jobs in Afghanistan to push forward a joint program with the State Department and the fledgling Afghan government.

The Afghanistan Reconstruction Group is based at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and described by officials as “a non-traditional solution to a non-traditional challenge.”

The group reports directly to the U.S. ambassador and focuses on such broad categories as education, water, gender programs, demining and agriculture.

Officials hope to attract a highly qualified pool of candidates willing to leave public sector and sometimes-lucrative private sector positions in the same fields.

“Although these are compensated positions, we are tapping into the vein of volunteerism in America,” former Army Secretary Martin Hoffmann, who is leading the recruitment effort, said in a Pentagon statement.

“We are finding individuals willing to go where their skills and experiences have great impact, helping to improve the lives of the Afghan people.”

Requirements for the positions include U.S. citizenship; a one-year commitment to live in Kabul; post-graduate degrees; and 15 years of experience in related fields. A knowledge of the Farsi or Dari languages is desirable, officials said.

Nearly four years after the U.S. invasion to drive out Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the country, many of the challenges they confronted at the beginning remain. Water and power are scarce; in rural areas, women have no more social stature than they did under the fundamentalist Taliban.

Though a sizeable fighting force remains and clashes have flared up in frequency and intensity this spring, U.S. military provincial reconstruction teams, have focused on projects throughout the country.

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