January 21, troops of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the ANA Training Team of the 14th shift of the Chaghcharan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT-14) visited the village of Sohta-i-Sufla lying around 40 kilometers away from the provincial capital Chaghcharan. The ANA members delivered to the villagers a batch of humanitarian aid: household items, warm clothes, toys.
|Source: 1st Lt. Tomas Pakalniškis|
The village, according to Lithuanian military, accommodating nearly a thousand inhabitants is situated in a picturesque location surrounded by mountains and river Harirud. The patrol had to overcome a several hours long journey over the mountains by the sole road that leads to the settlement. In the village peacekeepers met with Sayed Yamid, senior of the village, discussed local problems and security situation. According to the locals, this was the first visit by ANA and Lithuanian troops in their village.
According the senior of the village Sayed Yamid, geographical position of Sohta-i-Sufla cuts it off from the rest of the world. The only connection it has with Chaghcharan and other villages is a narrow mountain path. However, frequent showers and snowfall makes it inaccessible.
“Our community understands the goals of the Afghan Central Government and national security forces, and supports them. We are very happy to have you visiting us and caring for our life and security. People here face many problems in their daily lives – we have no teaching facilities for our children, and no qualified medical facilities for our ill ones. We also have other sorts of problems, but we understand that other local villages face them as well. What is more, Afghanistan is a vast country and the re-established Government of Afghanistan can not meet everyone’s needs instantly,” the village’s senior said.
According to Lt Col Ričardas Stakelis, commander of the Mentoring Team deployed with the PRT to provide training for the ANA personnel in Ghor, such collective patrols are absolutely useful both for the PRT and ANA troops: locals need to have visible evidence that Afghan military are ready to ensure security in the province and have Lithuanian peacekeepers only as auxiliary force that provide mentoring and training.
ANA Mentoring Team includes an array of military training instructors from across the Lithuanian Armed Forces, they share their experience and knowledge with members of local Afghan forces. Lithuania’s main focus coincides with the transition process — local troops are taught to complete operations independently without the assistance from NATO forces.
The ANA Company has been deployed in Ghor since January 2011. It comprises maneuver units, a support element, and EOD team, 100 members in total. The unit is deployed in the province of Ghor along with the elements of the Afghan National Police to ensure stable security environment in the province on their own.
At the moment the 14th rotation of Lithuanians serves in Ghor. The shift is formed by the 5th Territorial Unit of the Vytis Military District of the National Defence Volunteer Forces. Military contingent of PRT-14 is commanded by Col Eligijus Senulis, Commander of the 5th Territorial Unit of the Vytis Military District of the National Defence Volunteer Forces.
Lithuanian-led PRT in Ghor is a joint civilian and military mission, a part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), launched in the province in summer of 2005. The essential task of the mission is to support Afghan government in extending its authority in the province, ensuring security and creating conditions for provincial reconstruction. Staff of the Lithuanian-led PRT in Chaghcharan includes Georgia’s, Japan’s, US, Poland’s, Finland’s, and Ukraine’s representatives alongside Lithuanian military and civilian personnel.
On the 4th of January, 2012, the town of Chaghcharan and the surrounding area were approved to joint the transfer of responsibility process in Chaghcharan. Responsibility of local security forces, i.e. ANA units and police, for the security in their country is gradually increased since then. The key role of Lithuanian-led Chaghcharan PRT is training of the Afghan National Security Forces with a focus on instructions.
The implementation of the transfer of responsibility onto local forces before the end of 2014 was endorsed at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 with attendance President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. The process began in spring of 2011 is gaining pace. On 27 January 2011 President of Afghanistan announced that a part of Ghor province protected by Lithuanian-led Chaghcharan PRT, the town of Chaghcharan and surrounding area, was approved for the second phase of the process. The rest of the province is expected to be approved in the third phase in 2012. There are expectations that the province will be ready for full transfer onto Afghan responsibility within a period of one or two years.
Currently there are approximately 260 Lithuanian troops stationed in Afghanistan. They serve in the Regional Command West of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), in the province of Ghor, NATO headquarters in Kabul and Heart, in Kandahar Airport, and the NATO mission in the south of Afghanistan.
Ministry of National Defense Republic of Lithuania