Monday, July 26, 2010

Sangin – Then and Now in Afghanistan

Captain Marty Adams is serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines in the Sangin District Centre.

He was last in the town in 2005 serving with the Mobile Air Operations Team, part of Joint Force Helicopters (Afghanistan). On his return to Sangin five years later, he has noticed how much the centre has changed and developed.

Captain Marty Adams from 40 Commando Royal Marines currently serving in the Sangin area of operations, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Photo: Corporal Barry Lloyd RLC

As 40 Commando begin working with the United States Marine Corps in the region, the progressed made by British troops in the town has made it a safer place for the locals and ISAF forces.

He said: “In 2005 the security outside of the FOB (forward operating base), was practically none. Ourselves as soldiers, we couldn’t go outside the FOB for being attacked and occasionally we were attacked inside the FOB.

“ But since then, due to the progress that we’ve made, we’ve managed to push the bubble of security out from this location and beyond the centre of Sangin itself.”

When Captain Adams was first in Sangin, the forward operating base was still under sustained attack from insurgents operating within the district centre. Now the weapons on the tower of the Fire Support Group (FSG) building which protects the base are largely silent.

“I was here attached to the Light Infantry, and they were basically here essentially defending themselves. They weren’t really able to push forward outside of the FOB…… Now the local community have the freedom to have what is a normal life, which is essentially what everyone wants anyway. They can go shopping and move around free from intimidation from the Taliban because of the security provided by the Afghan and ISAF forces,” said Captain Adams.

An example of this development is the Helmand River crossing which can be seen from the FSG tower. Before, it used to be a rickety bridge that frequently got washed away. There is now a ferry crossing and Afghan Police security check point providing access into the town.

Captain Adams comments, “There used to be a river crossing with one or two boats. It was quite restricted because the Taliban and other insurgent groups would dominate in the area, but now that the Afghan and the ISAF security forces have provided protection, the locals can come and go as they please and there is a lot more activity at the crossing point.”

He continues, “The stabilisation force is the main effort really. They’re the people who are going to bring governance to this area, whilst we the soldiers provide the security for them to do it.”

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