ISAF Deputy Commander reflects on progress in Helmand

Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Adri­an Brad­shaw, Deputy Com­man­der of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, here reflects on recent vis­its to Hel­mand and east­ern Afghanistan, and gains made by ISAF over the past year.

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Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Adri­an Brad­shaw speaks with mem­bers of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces [Pic­ture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Brad­shaw writes:
Last week I was on patrol with British ser­vice­men in Hel­mand and, as ever, I was deeply impressed by their courage and ded­i­ca­tion. With remark­able cool­ness, they remarked that the area in which we were patrolling is sub­ject to impro­vised explo­sive device emplace­ment by the Tal­iban.

The ser­vice­men showed me where an insur­gent had blown him­self up try­ing to lay a bomb in the track just a few days before. My guides were wary of the risk, of course, and pro­ceed­ed with under­stand­able cau­tion — but they were also con­fi­dent in their drills, their equip­ment and their abil­i­ty to stay ahead of the threat.

Most impor­tant­ly, they know they are putting relent­less pres­sure on the insur­gents. They stand shoul­der-to-shoul­der with their Afghan com­rades, who are step­ping more and more into the lead. The strength of our rela­tion­ships was very evi­dent dur­ing my patrol in east­ern Afghanistan last week to vis­it US-men­tored Afghan Local Police (ALP).

Here the ALP block ene­my routes from Pak­istan, and are fre­quent­ly attacked by insur­gents who resent the restric­tion on their free­dom of move­ment. As the ALP point­ed out to me, they always see off the insur­gents. The friend­ship and mutu­al trust between ALP vil­lage guardians and their US advi­sors, built through stand­ing togeth­er against shared dan­gers, was obvi­ous and intense.

In the past year, ISAF have made sig­nif­i­cant gains. Although by no means defeat­ed, the Tal­iban are under real pres­sure. Their attacks are down 11 per cent on last year, and in Hel­mand, where most of the British forces are, secu­ri­ty has expand­ed into areas which were for­mer­ly safe havens for insur­gents. Sol­diers who were here a cou­ple of years ago say that places which used to be incred­i­bly vio­lent and dan­ger­ous are unrecog­nis­ably bet­ter now.

Despite two recent attacks in Kab­ul, the first for near­ly six months, the life of the cap­i­tal and the work of gov­ern­ment are going on more smooth­ly than in many a city. The fail­ure of sev­er­al hun­dred attempts to attack Kab­ul over recent months is tes­ta­ment to the effi­cien­cy of the Afghan Intel­li­gence Ser­vice and secu­ri­ty forces in and around the city.

There is much left to do, but we now have more and more rea­son to believe that the third-of-a-mil­lion-strong Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces real­ly can take the job on — and what’s more, they believe it too. The efforts of British troops in Hel­mand and our allies else­where have had a sig­nif­i­cant impact. We should be proud of what they have achieved and what they con­tin­ue to achieve on a dai­ly basis.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK