6 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-149

ISAF and Afghan Forces launch major operation in the South

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – At the request of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) launched Operation Achilles earlier today, an effort concentrated on the northern region of Helmand Province.

“Our first manoeuvre elements reached their positions at approximately 05h00 this morning and at it’s peek, Operation Achilles will eventually involve over 4500 NATO troops and close to 1000 ANSF personnel,” said Major-General Ton van Loon, Commander of Regional Command (South). “This is the largest multi-national combined ANSF and ISAF operation launched to date and it signifies the beginning of a planned offensive to bring security to northern Helmand and set the conditions for meaningful development that will fundamentally improve the quality of life for Afghans in the area,” he added.

Operations will focus on improving security in areas where Taliban extremists, narco-traffickers and other elements are trying to de-stabilize the Government of Afghanistan. We also intend to empower village elders to take charge of their communities as they have been doing so in other parts of southern Afghanistan, without the influence of Taliban extremists.

Though Operation Achilles will initially focus on improving security conditions, its overarching purpose is to assist the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan improve its ability to begin reconstruction and economic development in the area.

“Strategically, our goal is to enable the Afghan Government to begin the Kajaki project. This long term initiative is a huge undertaking and the eventual rehabilitation of the Kajaki multi-purpose dam and power house will improve the water supply for local communities, rehabilitate irrigation systems for farmlands and provide sufficient electrical power for residents, industries and commerce,” added Major-General van Loon.

There is no scheduled end date to this operation. ISAF and ANSF forces will continue to apply pressure to extremist forces and pursue reconstruction and development objectives until they are achieved.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/