Afghan forces take over security in Lashkar Gah

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — The final area of Lashkar Gah to trans­fer to Afghan secu­ri­ty con­trol has been hand­ed over at a cer­e­mo­ny at Check­point Dosti (mean­ing friend­ship in Pash­tun).

Dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny, which was attend­ed by more than 30 promi­nent local elders, a tran­si­tion agree­ment was signed by Col. Mohammed Zai of the Afghan Nation­al Police and Lt. Col. Ian Mor­timer, com­man­der of U.K. forces in Lashkar Gah. This marks the final stage of secu­ri­ty trans­fer in the Lashkar Gah munic­i­pal­i­ty, the largest and most heav­i­ly pop­u­lat­ed region of Hel­mand province. 

Sol­diers from The Queen’s Roy­al Hus­sars and 1st Bat­tal­ion The York­shire Reg­i­ment have been work­ing close­ly with their Afghan coun­ter­parts dur­ing their six month tour, which is now draw­ing to a close. Their work has led to a 69 per­cent reduc­tion in vio­lent activ­i­ty when com­pared to the same six month peri­od last year. 

“In the last few months we have tak­en many check­points from ISAF and this is the final one. We will nev­er let the insur­gents come back to Baba­jij,” said Afghan Lt. Esmerai, 8th Precinct com­man­der, Afghan Uni­formed Police. 

“I’m very pleased and proud of the progress the boys have made — it’s got us to the posi­tion where we can close check­points and hand them over to the Afghan Uni­formed Police,” said Lt. Col. Ian Mor­timer, com­man­der, Com­bined Force Lashkar Gah and com­mand­ing offi­cer of The Queen’s Roy­al Hus­sars. “The main effort has been the devel­op­ment of Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces. The Brigade Advi­so­ry Group and the Police Men­tor­ing Advi­so­ry Group have done a lot of work to devel­op insti­tu­tion­al­ly the police and here on the ground we see the ben­e­fit of their efforts. Over­all the progress has been outstanding.” 

“The Afghan Police have proved that they are ready to take over this area,” said Cpl. Simon Keny­on, Hal­i­fax, 30, a sol­dier with 4th Bat­tal­ion the York­shire Reg­i­ment. “I’ve built up real­ly close rela­tion­ships with the AUP at this check­point; we have worked real­ly well togeth­er. I think the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion is real­ly good com­pared to what it used to be. The locals them­selves agree with us on that and they’re always say­ing that we’ve helped so much in this area.” 

The process of tran­si­tion for secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty from ISAF to Afghan forces in Lashkar Gah began in July 2011. Dur­ing this time vio­lence lev­els have fall­en dra­mat­i­cal­ly across the region, Afghans have ben­e­fit­ted from improved free­dom of move­ment and pupil enrol­ment for both girls and boys has risen. 

The British mis­sion in South­ern Afghanistan con­tin­ues to make con­sid­er­able progress as U.K. forces work with their Afghan part­ners to pre­pare the neigh­bour­ing Nahr‑e Saraj dis­trict to begin the tran­si­tion process. British forces will con­clude their com­bat role by the end of 2014. 

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