Afghanistan — New ISAF-built road cuts insurgent routes

British, Dan­ish and Afghan forces have built a new road and new patrol base to cut off known insur­gent routes and bring increased pro­tec­tion for civil­ians and troops alike around Gereshk.

Danish tank convoy on road to the patrol base
Dan­ish tank con­voy on road to the patrol base
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The pro­vi­sion of secu­ri­ty around Gereshk in north­ern Hel­mand province is led by a Dan­ish Bat­tle Group with British and Afghan ele­ments attached to it.

The road and patrol base-build­ing tak­ing place in the area north of the dis­trict cen­tre falls under Oper­a­tion LMARIZ TUFAAN (Sun Storm).

Its aim is to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion of Gereshk dis­trict cen­tre, the cap­i­tal in Nahr-e Saraj dis­trict, against the insur­gents pri­mar­i­ly com­ing from the north­east down the Upper Gereshk Val­ley that stretch­es on until San­gin.

The main effort of the build­ing work is the con­struc­tion of a com­plete­ly new road between two exist­ing patrol bases (PBs). This will enable the secu­ri­ty forces to exer­cise greater con­trol with­in the area and give the local pop­u­la­tion the pos­si­bil­i­ty of more pro­tect­ed move­ment between the impor­tant bazaars in Gereshk dis­trict cen­tre and sur­round­ing vil­lages.

The oper­a­tion, under­tak­en by Dan­ish troops, British engi­neers and counter impro­vised explo­sive device (IED) experts, and an Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) kan­dak (bat­tal­ion) who have all worked togeth­er for weeks, includes clear­ing the area of IEDs, build­ing two bridges, 18km of new road, and a new PB mid­way along that road.

British troops on Operation LMARIZ TUFAAN
British troops on Oper­a­tion LMARIZ TUFAAN
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The mul­ti-mil­lion dol­lar project has been spear­head­ed by the Dis­trict Gov­er­nor of Gereshk, Jan Gul, and fund­ed by the Dan­ish gov­ern­ment.

It is hoped that the new secu­ri­ty improve­ments will help many Afghan fam­i­lies that are liv­ing with the threat of intim­i­da­tion and extor­tion by the Tal­iban on a dai­ly basis, such as landown­er Haji Nab­ul­lah, who said:

“The Tal­iban digs in IEDs all around here and I can’t walk here.”

War­rant Offi­cer Class 2 Mark Lovatt, from the Roy­al Logis­tic Corps, is involved in the oper­a­tion. He said:

“At the moment we are clear­ing all the IEDs away. We will make it safer, and then have over­watch, to stop them putting them back again.

“We are putting in the road for them [the vil­lagers] as much as us, but we can’t just take the land for the road. They will be com­pen­sat­ed just as they would be if we decid­ed to do this in Den­mark or the UK.”

Afghan National Army soldiers meet the villagers living next to their new patrol base
Afghan Nation­al Army sol­diers meet the vil­lagers liv­ing next to their new patrol base
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Nab­ul­lah and his fel­low vil­lagers will get com­pen­sa­tion for any dam­age caused, but efforts to get them to vis­it one of the PBs to dis­cuss what might be due to them have been resist­ed. Nab­ul­lah said:

“We are afraid of the Tal­iban and we can’t go there. We know of two elders who were killed for going there so we can’t come. I have a car. Maybe they will come and put an IED next to my car.”

Cap­tain Mohammed Nasir, ANA Tolay Com­man­der, said:

“Right now we go out and talk to them, but there is no gov­ern­ment here. The peo­ple don’t trust that lack of a gov­ern­ment. We need to go and live next to the vil­lage and show them we are the gov­ern­ment here and win their trust.”

The new PB being means that from now on Haji Nab­ul­lah and his fam­i­ly and friends will have a pla­toon of ANA sol­diers liv­ing just next door to them.

Captain Mohammed Nasir, Afghan National Army Tolay Commander
Cap­tain Mohammed Nasir, Afghan Nation­al Army Tolay Com­man­der
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

They will be a con­stant pres­ence in the area, with the back up of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Forces (ISAF) less than a kilo­me­tre away in each direc­tion.

Cap­tain Nasir added:

“If we go out on patrol for 24 hours to a vil­lage then come back we can­not make a dif­fer­ence because the Tal­iban can return.

“But if we live there we will be able to guar­an­tee secu­ri­ty. More peo­ple will start com­ing back when they know their army is there, pro­tect­ing them. We aren’t wor­ried about our secu­ri­ty. We are the army.”

The lack of a clan­des­tine through-route to Gereshk town is expect­ed to force the insur­gents to use the main roads or the riv­er, both of which are well-guard­ed by ISAF or Afghan troops and police, or to trav­el in the desert area either side of the Green Zone, where they can be spot­ted more eas­i­ly.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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