Lithuanian and Afghan military personnel continue collective patrolling of remote areas of Ghor

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

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