10 July 2008

PR# 2008-309

Forward operating base “HERO” Gets Afghan Seal of Approval


KABUL, Afghanistan - The first Afghan National Army (ANA) designed, built, manned and patrolled Forward Operating Base (FOB) has received a seal of approval from the local Afghan community.

FOB “ATTAL”, which means “HERO” in Pashto, is the first of its kind in Helmand, demonstrating the ANA will, and capability, to take on responsibility for their own security in the province. It’s named after the ANA, Helmand based, 3/205 “Hero” Brigade and joins Patrol Bases “Viking” near Sangin, “West” near Musa Qaleh and “Barakzai” near Gereshk as being ANA operated.  FOB ATTAL is the first ANA led project. It’s also the largest FOB manned by ANA troops.

After initial rejection from the local community when the base was completed in early June, due to Taliban intimidation, the local ANA commander has been conducting intensive patrols to assure the villagers of their security over the last few weeks. For fear of losing their influence over the population, the Taliban threatened to cut the water supply to the villagers’ farms. At this the locals grouped together and rejected them, requesting a reconciliation shura with the ANA commander.

The Taliban, in an act of desperation to retain their influence, attacked the shura while it was taking place. There were no casualties but the locals were outraged at such a blatant disregard for their cultural values and now completely support the local ANA commander, who is also a Mullah that recently started reading prayers five times a day over a loudspeaker system which stretches across the valley. The locals reacted very well to this and are really happy that it’s Afghan forces that are now protecting them. They’ve requested another FOB be built further up the Gereshk valley.

In five days, under the constant threat of indirect fire, the ANA built the infrastructure for the base, including a protected helicopter landing site, 200m of ballistic protection wall, and perimeter and central observation points that overlook the whole area.

“This demonstrates not only the Afghan National Army’s desire to provide their own security, but also the willingness of the people to support their own legitimate security forces.” said Lt Col Robin Mathews, ISAF Task Force Helmand spokesperson “There is a long way to go, but this is an excellent example of Afghan-led progress as well as local ingenuity and endeavour.”

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/