Delving deep to disrupt Taliban territory
Soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 1st Brigade, 201st Corps and the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team pushed deep into the Atskuchakilla Valley in the Dawlat Shah district, known to host several high-level Taliban leaders and for supplying insurgents with weapons from the local bazaars.
According to the district sub-governor, the Taliban stronghold has not seen a large presence of troops in years. Today, local villagers see troops patrolling throughout the district with the Taliban nowhere to be seen.
“Since the coalition forces have been here, many valleys have been cleared,” said Nasir Ahmad Hammet, sub-governor of Dawlat Shah district. “This is the first time they have cleared this area of insurgency.”
The success of maintaining security at Dawlat Shah relies heavily on the ANA.
The route clearance team found four improvised explosive devices during the convoy to the Dawlat Shah District Center, which they detonated on-site. No vehicle was hit by an IED during the convoy to the district center.
Upon arrival, soldiers found several weapon caches in a town market, including one of the largest caches found by the 45th IBCT since conducting missions in Afghanistan. Some of the items consisted of pineapple grenades, RPG primers and heads, 60 mm mortars and a recoilless rifle.
In addition to the caches, 40 pounds of opium were found in a local police officer’s house.
“If they prove that the opium is his, we have criminal law and he will be put through the prosecution process,” said Nasir Ahmad Hammet, sub-governor of Dawlat Shah district. “We are committed to the law equally, whether it is officials, police or local people.”
Eight insurgents were killed, and several more were injured during the operations in Dawlat Shah.
As Afghan units are preparing for transition of security throughout Afghanistan, 50 percent of the population will be living in areas secured by Afghans. Although Dawlat Shah district is not one of the districts under the second phase of transition, all of Laghman province will eventually be transitioned.
“We are sending troops to many areas, such as Dawlat Shah, which are farther away from the cities to expand security, to protect the Afghans and establish the Afghan constitution in these areas,” said ANA Lt. Col. Mohammad Harif, operations officer for 1st Brigade, 201st Corps.
The elders acknowledged their trust and support of the ANA between the locals, coalition forces and ANSF.
The ANA’s 1st Brigade, 201st Corps, is building a combat outpost to house troops in order to maintain security throughout the district. This is also the first time the ANA are facilitating the building of their own combat outpost in Laghman province.
“The ANA are made up of our sons, brothers and nephews, so we put our faith in them,” said one elder in Dawlat Shah. “We support them and want to help them any way we can.”
With the insurgents out of the villages, it gives the government, and more importantly the villagers, a safe environment throughout the district.
“The Taliban would intimidate contractors who bring the materials to build the police headquarters before the push into the district by the ANSF and U.S. forces,” said Hammet. “The contractor for the [police headquarters] can finally start building again. With the building of the [police headquarters] complete, the district should become more secure as the police force in the area grows to be stronger and better trained.”
Article by Spc. Leslie Goble, Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan