Troops Expand Security in Eastern Afghanistan

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 10, 2011 — Region­al Com­mand East forces are focused on expand­ing secu­ri­ty around the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kab­ul and pro­vid­ing a lay­ered defense along Afghanistan’s bor­der with Pak­istan, their com­man­der said here this week.
“We’ve real­ly stayed on the offen­sive with our coun­ter­parts this win­ter,” Army Maj. Gen. John F. Camp­bell said in a March 7 brief­ing for reporters trav­el­ing with Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates. “We’ve changed the bat­tle­field geom­e­try.”

Region­al Com­mand East cov­ers 14 provinces and 43,000 square miles around Kab­ul, includ­ing 450 miles of bor­der with Pak­istan. Based around the 101st Air­borne Divi­sion, which Camp­bell also com­mands, the com­mand includes some 30,000 coali­tion forces made up of sev­en maneu­ver brigades, an avi­a­tion brigade, and French and Pol­ish task forces. 

Camp­bell said his oper­a­tional focus as spring approach­es will include expand­ing the Kab­ul secu­ri­ty zone along High­way 1 into War­dak and Loghar provinces, and up High­way 7 into Jalalabad. 

The gen­er­al said he’s also focused on lay­ered defense along the bor­der, posi­tion­ing troops to pre­vent insur­gents from enter­ing Afghanistan in large num­bers or with loads of weapons. 

The lay­ered defense includes Afghan bor­der police, infor­ma­tion-shar­ing cen­ters where coali­tion and Afghan forces coor­di­nate cross-bor­der tar­get­ing with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary, and a con­cen­tra­tion of coali­tion and Afghan forces in areas near the bor­der, Camp­bell explained. 

“We do not cross the bor­der,” he said, adding that in many cas­es, artillery or mor­tar rounds com­ing from insur­gents on the Pak­istan side of the bor­der are tar­get­ed by Pak­istani forces, based on coali­tion coordination. 

Cross-bor­der indi­rect fire has increased in recent weeks, Camp­bell said. 

“Based on the num­ber of inci­dents when [the ene­my is] throw­ing artillery, they’re try­ing to clear the way so they can bring more peo­ple over,” Camp­bell said. “I think [the ene­my is] frus­trat­ed, because [Afghan secu­ri­ty forces], along with the coali­tion forces have real­ly iden­ti­fied, now, the places they can come in through.” 

Ene­my forces who do make it across, Camp­bell said, will find their weapons caches gone. In Novem­ber, Decem­ber and Jan­u­ary, his com­mand found and destroyed almost three times as many caches of mor­tar and artillery rounds and bomb-mak­ing mate­ri­als as in the same peri­od the pre­vi­ous year. 

Camp­bell refut­ed reports that the NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force is depart­ing the Pech Riv­er Valley.” 

“Everybody’s say­ing, ‘You’re aban­don­ing the Pech.’ … That’s absolute­ly false,” he said. 

Region­al Com­mand East is realign­ing its forces, he said, and for the last six months has been work­ing to increase its capa­bil­i­ty along the bor­der in Nan­garhar, Nuris­tan, Kunar and Lagh­man provinces. 

“We’ve added about 6,100 coali­tion and Afghan forces in those four provinces since I’ve been here, and adjust­ed com­mand and con­trol” he said, not­ing that Lagh­man now is assigned to a sep­a­rate brigade, where­as one brigade used to cov­er all four provinces. 

“We’re real­ly look­ing hard at Lagh­man, because if you come from Nuris­tan, you have to come through Lagh­man to get to Kab­ul,” he said. 

Four com­bat out­posts dot the Pech Riv­er Val­ley, most with both coali­tion and Afghan forces assigned. Rein­forced Afghan forces now sole­ly man one of them, Camp­bell said, and the coali­tion troops for­mer­ly based there can be reas­signed to more active oper­a­tions clos­er to the border. 

“If they’re sit­ting at these [com­bat out­posts in the Pech Riv­er Val­ley] … they’re very sta­t­ic,” he said. “A large per­cent­age of what you have in there has to be force protection.” 

While reas­sign­ing some troops out of the val­ley has giv­en the com­mand need­ed flex­i­bil­i­ty for offen­sive oper­a­tions, it does­n’t mean the com­mand is ignor­ing the area. “We’re still in the Pech, [and] we’ll remain in the Pech,” he added. “I’ll keep some coali­tion forces at some of those locations.” 

Afghan army strength is increas­ing both in num­bers and capa­bil­i­ty, Camp­bell said, not­ing 11 new army kan­daks, or bat­tal­ions, have been trained since his divi­sion arrived. ISAF offi­cials rate Afghan Nation­al Army effec­tive­ness every month, he added, and it con­tin­ues to improve. 

“We’re see­ing great growth in the lead­er­ship,” he said, though he acknowl­edged that progress of the Afghan Nation­al Police has been slower. 

ISAF is focus­ing more coali­tion senior offi­cers and non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers on Afghan police train­ing, Camp­bell said, and “that is real­ly start­ing to show div­i­dends on their plan­ning and on their leadership.” 

Schools open­ing, num­bers of stu­dents, jobs cre­at­ed and oth­er indi­ca­tors in Region­al Com­mand East show a pos­i­tive trend, Camp­bell said. Gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment are increas­ing, he added, and rule of law is tak­ing hold. 

“In Khost and in Jalal­abad, we have rule-of-law cen­ters now,” he said. “The num­bers of pros­e­cu­tors and … judges con­tin­ue to go up.” 

Pub­lic tri­als also are increas­ing in Khost, Nan­garhar, War­dak and Ghazni, Camp­bell said, and Afghan offi­cials are reas­sured by the coalition’s pres­ence through 2014, as agreed upon in Novem­ber at a NATO sum­mit meet­ing in Lis­bon, Portugal. 

“At my lev­el, … work­ing with [Afghan forces] and the gov­er­nors, they know we’re here,” he said. “In the past, many of them were on the fence; they hedged their bets. Now they know we’re in it for the long haul.” 

Gates told Region­al Com­mand East troops dur­ing his vis­it that the com­ing weeks and months will bring more challenges. 

“It was a tough win­ter, and it’s going to be a tougher spring and sum­mer,” the sec­re­tary said, “but you’ve made a lot of headway.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →