Afghan forces to take on security lead for Nad ‘Ali

Afghanistan’s own forces will take lead respon­si­bil­i­ty for deliv­er­ing secu­ri­ty in a num­ber of new areas across the coun­try, it was announced yes­ter­day, includ­ing the Nad ‘Ali dis­trict of Hel­mand province where British forces oper­ate.

Afghan sol­diers in Nad ‘Ali pose for a pho­to­graph fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of Oper­a­tion TORA GHAR 15, their first major inde­pen­dent oper­a­tion, which took place in March 2011 [Pic­ture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The lat­est phase of the tran­si­tion process, announced on Sun­day 27 Novem­ber 2011 by Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai, demon­strates con­tin­u­ing progress in the devel­op­ment of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces (ANSF). Train­ing the Afghans to lead on secu­ri­ty across the coun­try is now the main effort of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) troops. 

Build­ing up the ANSF capa­bil­i­ty so that they can pre­vent Al-Qae­da from oper­at­ing freely in Afghanistan and pos­ing a threat to us and to our allies around the world will allow British com­bat forces to draw down gradually. 

Across Afghanistan, the announce­ment means that Afghan forces will soon have lead respon­si­bil­i­ty for the secu­ri­ty of almost half of the country’s pop­u­la­tion. All of Afghanistan will have begun the process of tran­si­tion by the end of 2013 and the ANSF will be lead­ing on secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions in all provinces by the end of 2014. 

The Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces are get­ting more capa­ble by the day and are already demon­strat­ing their effec­tive­ness and deliv­er­ing secu­ri­ty in areas includ­ed in the first phase of tran­si­tion, announced on 20 July 2011, with min­i­mal ISAF sup­port. These areas include Lashkar Gah, the pre­vi­ous­ly British-con­trolled cap­i­tal of Hel­mand province, where there has been no sig­nif­i­cant increase in either insur­gent or crim­i­nal activ­i­ty as the ANSF have tak­en on greater responsibility. 

British troops have oper­at­ed in Nad ‘Ali since 2006, work­ing to clear the area of insur­gent activ­i­ty and intim­i­da­tion while build­ing and devel­op­ing the capa­bil­i­ty of the Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) and Afghan Nation­al Police (ANP). In antic­i­pa­tion of today’s announce­ment, the Afghans have increas­ing­ly led secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions over recent months, with British forces in sup­port. This joint secu­ri­ty effort has led to an 86 per cent drop in vio­lent inci­dents across the dis­trict this year com­pared with 2010. 

Sec­re­tary of State for Defence, Philip Ham­mond, said: 

“I wel­come Pres­i­dent Karzai’s announce­ment that Nad ‘Ali will be trans­ferred to Afghan secu­ri­ty control. 

“This is tes­ta­ment to the increas­ing capa­bil­i­ty of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces to deliv­er their own secu­ri­ty in this dis­trict, which I vis­it­ed myself recent­ly, and to the incred­i­ble work of the British and allied forces who have trained and part­nered them. I pay trib­ute to them and the great things they have achieved in train­ing, men­tor­ing and part­ner­ing their Afghan colleagues. 

“There is no doubt that the work and achieve­ments of our Ser­vice per­son­nel are mak­ing the UK a safer place and pro­tect­ing our nation­al security.” 

The improved secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion has enabled the Afghan Gov­ern­ment to reach out to the local peo­ple of Nad ‘Ali, with trade and com­merce flour­ish­ing and, impor­tant­ly, the insur­gency being denied a safe haven from which to plot and mount attacks. 

Tran­si­tion is a care­ful­ly planned, joint process. Deci­sions are made joint­ly by the Afghan Gov­ern­ment and ISAF. By the end of 2014 Afghan forces will have respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty across Afghanistan, enabling the release of UK and ISAF forces. UK and inter­na­tion­al sup­port will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, but the UK forces will no longer be in a com­bat role, or in the num­bers they cur­rent­ly are. It will be the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces that will deal with any resid­ual secu­ri­ty threat. 

Along­side the mil­i­tary effort to strength­en the ANSF, British and inter­na­tion­al civil­ians are suc­cess­ful­ly build­ing struc­tures of account­able gov­ern­ment, with bud­gets and pri­or­i­ties tied to the population’s needs, and sup­port­ing efforts to rein­te­grate Tal­iban fight­ers. The UK-led Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team (PRT) con­tin­ues to move away from direct deliv­ery across Hel­mand to sup­port the increas­ing­ly capa­ble Afghan sys­tems now in place. The PRT will com­plete its draw­down by the end of 2014. 

The For­eign Sec­re­tary, William Hague, said: 

“I wel­come Pres­i­dent Karzai’s announce­ment today that the sec­ond set of provinces and dis­tricts in Afghanistan, includ­ing Nad ‘Ali in the UK’s area of oper­a­tion in cen­tral Hel­mand, will now begin secu­ri­ty transition. 

“This announce­ment marks con­tin­ued progress in the process of phased tran­si­tion from an inter­na­tion­al to an Afghan secu­ri­ty lead to cov­er near­ly half the Afghan pop­u­la­tion. The Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces are demon­strat­ing that they are more capa­ble day by day. 

“Cir­cum­stances remain chal­leng­ing but steady and pos­i­tive progress is being made. The UK and our ISAF part­ners are com­mit­ted to work­ing togeth­er with the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan to ensure that Afghanistan nev­er again becomes an oper­at­ing base for inter­na­tion­al terrorism. 

“Tran­si­tion does not mean the end of inter­na­tion­al sup­port. The UK remains com­mit­ted to a strong long term part­ner­ship with Afghanistan based on diplo­ma­cy, trade and devel­op­ment and sup­port for ANSF development.” 

The com­man­ders of British and Afghan forces oper­at­ing in cen­tral Hel­mand have also wel­comed the announcement. 

Task Force Hel­mand Com­man­der Brigadier Patrick Sanders said: 

“I think this is a sign of the enor­mous progress made in Nad ‘Ali in the last 12 months. The lev­els of vio­lence have dropped down by 67 per cent. 

“We are see­ing Afghan secu­ri­ty forces pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty by them­selves with lim­it­ed ISAF sup­port. It is a tes­ta­ment to the achieve­ments and the sac­ri­fice of Afghan secu­ri­ty forces and the young men and women of the Task Force.” 

Gen­er­al Sherin Shah is the com­man­der of the 6,000 Afghan Nation­al Army troops that form 3rd Brigade 215 Corps, which cov­er the key Hel­mand dis­tricts of Lashkar Gah, Nahr‑e Saraj, Nad ‘Ali and Gereshk. 

He said: 

“It has been four months since secu­ri­ty in Lashkar Gah was hand­ed over and the ANSF are now respon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty there on a dai­ly basis. 

“In Nad ‘Ali the ANSF will take over respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty. The process of tran­si­tion will take time, and it is not some­thing that will hap­pen overnight, but ISAF troops are not leav­ing us and will sup­port us if we need it. 

“I have seen big changes in Nad ‘Ali in the past few years. Now there are shops, busi­ness­es and con­struc­tion projects hap­pen­ing. Chil­dren can go to school to learn. 

“I know that many peo­ple are tired of fight­ing. I say this to them — serve your coun­try and join the ANP or ANA. The peace process will con­tin­ue and noth­ing will stop us.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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