03 Jan. 2009
PR# 2009-010

Joint ANSF, ISAF operation leads to hope in Helmand

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Afghan National Security Forces together with the International Security Assistance Force have successfully conducted the first phases of Operation SOND CHARA (Red Dagger). This operation was necessary to provide better security to Lashkar Gah and its surroundings following the attacks on October 11, 2008. The conditions have now been set for Voter Registration early this year and the execution of the Counter Narcotics plan by the Civil Military Mission in Helmand as part of a comprehensive strategy.

Governor Mangal of Helmand Province was instrumental in the planning of this operation as it allowed him to extend the authority of the legitimate government of Afghanistan in an area that was previously under Taliban influence.  At his Security Shura attended by 160 tribal elders in early December, he assured everyone that under his leadership, the government would make improvements to security throughout Helmand a key priority. 

Speaking at the Shura, Governor Mangal, said

“It has been a hard year for our brave police and soldiers, but it has been a much harder year for the enemies of the people.  Our enemies have lost more men and many commanders.  They will not win.”

While hosting a news conference in Kabul recently, Brigadier General Zazai, Commander of 205 Hero Corps, stressed that “the Afghan National Security Forces were involved in detailed collaborative planning,” while the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team was consulted at a very early stage to advise on the construction of an effective immediate stabilisation plan.

Nad-E-Ali was chosen as the focus for the operation as it was the springboard from which the attacks of October 11 were launched, and it is home to a large population that is eligible to vote.

Commander Paula Rowe, spokesperson for Task Force Helmand, comprising British, Danish and Estonian forces, summed up the operation by saying:

“Some very hard fighting, in often appalling conditions, has gained the Afghan Government more effective control over an area which has been the source of instability since the Summer of 2008.  Afghan National Security Forces, with the support of ISAF troops, have been successful in driving away enemy forces from the Nad E’Ali area and are fully committed to maintaining lasting security for the people there.”

She went on to list some of the specific achievements by saying:

“Insurgent influence over 180 square kilometres has been reduced considerably, and 4 urbanised areas now have a permanent Government presence where there was none before.  About 1000 Kilos of narcotics have been found and destroyed, together with a large number of weapons and ammunition, including 107 mm rockets.”

Now, the stabilisation phase will start.  A number of cash for work projects are organised and projects are in place to rehabilitate a Community Health Centre and a school.  Teachers, local leaders and other people from the area congratulated the Chief of Police Sherzad and members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team for retaking this area. The transition of places from a defensive position to an active village has been impressive to see.

As a result of this ANSF operation supported by ISAF troops, there is hope again in Lashkar Gah and its surroundings.

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/