23 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-222

Operation takes place in Babaji in support of Op ACHILLES

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Yesterday at approximately 6 a.m., Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) supported by ISAF troops launched a series of deliberate operations in the general area of Babaji, along the Helmand River, north of Lashkar Gah.  This operation falls within the framework of Operation Achilles launched on 6 March.

The ANSF manoeuvre element, consisting of several company sized groups, launched this series of attacks on Taliban extremist strongholds in the area. ANSF continue to push through the area today, supported by ISAF troops from Task Force Helmand providing flank protection, close air support and medical support.

“The scale of this ANSF led operation is a clear sign that the ANSF have greatly increased their capacity over the months,” said Maj Gen Ton van Loon, commander of Regional Command South. “We are working closely with the ANSF on this operation and ISAF is paying particular attention to ensuring that all efforts are made to reduce collateral damage given Taliban extremist tactics are to hide within the general population,” he added.

This particular component of Operation Achilles is being conducted to put pressure on Taliban extremists, foreign terrorists and their narco-trafficking criminal associates that continue to operate within the general population in the communities north of Lashkar Gah. 

Strategically, the long-term goal of Operation Achilles is to create a secure environment that will enable the Government of Afghanistan to further develop northern Helmand.  The eventual rehabilitation of the Kajaki multi-purpose dam and power house will increase electrical power for residents, industries and commerce in Southern Afghanistan, which will improve the water supply for local communities and rehabilitate irrigation systems for farmlands.

“Our objective has never been about the number of engagements with the enemy, or how many of them we capture or eliminate, or any other measurement that provides a false sense of progress. I confirm that at this early stage, we have and will continue to erode the enemy’s ability to impede progress,” said Maj Gen van Loon.  “In doing so, we are slowly providing the people of Northern Helmand the ability to make their own decisions and choices about their future without pressure from Taliban extremists, foreign terrorists and their narco-trafficking criminal associates,” he added.

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/