Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Afghan security forces conduct joint operation to clear areas of threat around Lashkar Gah, Helmand

Afghan security forces from the Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan Border Police (ANBP), Afghan Civil Order Police (ANCOP) and ISAF soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Scots Guards acting as part of the Brigade Advisory Group, the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh and the Counter IED Taskforce have completed a clearance operation around Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand. The operation was jointly planned by Afghan security forces with guidance from ISAF advisors.

Afghan National Army and ISAF Commanders discussing plans before the operation.

Lieutenant Peter Foster, 1st Battalion The Scots Guards and commander of the Brigade Advisory Group attached to the detached Kolay of the 4th Kandak, Afghan National Army said, “This morning’s operation was basically planned and conducted by Afghan security forces. There was a small ISAF contingent there to help with the planning and execution of the operation…..The operation was good. It pretty much fulfilled what it was meant to do. It got Afghan security forces working together, which is extremely good.”

The operation was part of an initiative by the Provincial Governor, Governor Mangal, to clear key areas close to the provincial capital of Lashkah Gar which he considered to be a threat. It involved 300 Afghan security forces and 40 ISAF troops who amassed on the start line to the west of the city in the early hours before stepping off at first light. ISAF forces attached to the troops provided mentoring and guidance to the advancing Afghan forces and their commanders. The aim was to enhance the effectiveness of the overall operation and develop the skills of Afghan forces.

Soldiers from the Afghan National Army lined up with their impressive arsenal of weaponry before the operation starts.

“We plan operations jointly. We give them as much as advice as possible as to how to make it an effective operation and how we can interact our assets with their numbers and their face. Essentially we’re looking to give an Afghan face as much as possible, because the Afghan people want to see Afghan soldiers,” said Lieutenant Foster.

He continues, “Out on the ground my job is to specifically mentor the commander. I’ll give him advice and direct him where he needs directing to further develop his soldiering skills. In terms of controlling his troops, that is his job. I am merely there to advise him.”

Supported by Counter IED teams, Warrior armoured fighting vehicles and aviation support if the troops faced significant resistance, the ANP and ANA patrolled south down two separate geographic corridors. Both the ANA and ANP contingents were able to reach their objectives without incident, although the Counter IED Taskforce was deployed to deal with potential IEDs. After the operation, the Afghan security forces took part in a debrief session with ISAF troops to review how the operation how gone.

Operations of this nature which are jointly planned and use partnered troops are the next step as ISAF moves towards Afghan-led security in and around Lashkar Gah.

Photos: Cpl Barry Lloyd RLC/MOD 2010

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