13 Apr 2007

PR# 2007-304

Shura held in Sangin District Centre yesterday

Helmand, Afghanistan – Yesterday, Brigadier-General John Lorimer, Commander of ISAF’s Task Force Helmand, stood side-by-side with Helmand Provincial Governor Wafa to call on the people of Sangin to assist in the reconstruction of their village.

The two leaders addressed over 100 of Sangin’s influential tribal elders at the shura organized by Governor Wafa. This was the first opportunity for the Governor and ISAF to speak to the community since the start of Operation Achilles and after Sangin was cleared last week of Taliban extremists.  

Brigadier General Lorimer was appealing to all Afghans to talk to the visiting ISAF troops. “We need you to speak with elders and talk to the military engineers who are currently establishing what reconstruction and development you need and where.  Please help us.”

One of the key areas of Governor Wafa’s opening address was to outline the reconstruction of the Kajaki multi-purpose dam project. This project, once completed, will not only increase electrical power for residents, industries and commerce in Southern Afghanistan, but also improve the water supply for local communities and rehabilitate irrigation systems for the farmlands of the Sangin Valley.

He added, “Security will improve as the investment in the Afghan National Security Forces training comes to fruition. You can already see the Afghan National Army patrol base which is being built now.  With security in place, development can follow.”

As part of the ongoing operation to strengthen the security of the area, ISAF began construction of bases for the Afghan National Army (ANA) to the north and south of the town. ISAF and ANA forces continue to carry out operations to clear the Taliban from the northern area of the town.

The initial success of the operation has seen the south and centre of the town cleared of Taliban extremists. ISAF and ANSF forces continue to push northwards to flush the Taliban from their hiding places in the desert.

However, Brigadier General Lorimer did not rule out future major operations against the Taliban in Sangin.  He told the elders, “Senior Taliban and foreign fighters have now been driven from the Sangin District Centre. Our operations against them will continue.  Both in Sangin District and across the province, we will strike them at a time and place of our choosing.”

Only with improvements to the security of the district underway can the first steps on the long road to rebuilding the war ravaged province begin. The first of these is to identify the reconstruction needs of the community, which is why ISAF engineers have now started visiting local communities. But for these visits to succeed, local villagers need to talk openly to ISAF.

Brigadier General Lorimer closed his address by saying, “It is not ISAF’s responsibility to eradicate poppy; we are here to defeat the Taliban. We will do all that we can to avoid harming innocent life or causing damage to your property.”

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/