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Southern Fist II packs a punch

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An Afghan Border Police-led operation that included commandos from the Afghan National Army and police officers from the Afghan National Civil Order Police executed a joint operation that took place in a remote area 55 miles south of Spin Boldak near the Pakistan border in Shorabak district, Afghanistan, Dec. 8-12. The operation, dubbed Southern Fist II, aimed to neutralize enemy safe havens in the district.

The Afghan National Security Force's goal of the operation was to provide security from the mountains near the checkpoints of Shorabak district. Insurgents would continuously engage and harass checkpoint officers with enemy fire.

Approximately 450 policemen and soldiers from the three ANSF components killed 25 armed insurgents and captured five others during the coordinated joint search-and-clearance operation. They also seized a large number of weapons, ammunition, improvised explosive devices, food, uniforms and motorcycles with minimal International Security Assistance Force assistance.

"Our main focus was to neutralize the enemy," said Maj. Asmatullah Safi, an operations officer with the 3rd Zone Afghan Border Police. "The enemy thought they were so strong and we wouldn't be able to defeat them. We wanted to prove them wrong."

ISAF had a small, but vital role in the operation. They provided medical evacuation capabilities and aerial reconnaissance.

"They [Afghans] are in the lead right now," said Maj. Joseph Labarbera, the operations officer with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. "The thing we really want to see is for them to sustain the lead; we see and feel the progress with this operation."

The 2-23 Infantry along with various Security Force Assistance Teams partnered with the ABP Kandaks in the area. Labarbera added that the confidence of the Afghan police officers and soldiers involved rose after the completion of this mission.

"We tested our ability to eliminate the threat of enemies in the area of operation," Asmatullah said. "We wanted to find out how to best destroy the enemy without ISAF assistance in future operations."

The outcome of this operation was another step fro the ANSF to work together, independently in the southern region of Afghanistan.

"This operation gave their leadership confidence to go out and conduct operations outside of their comfort zone," Labarbera said.

If the ANSF can maintain operations like this, the security of southern Afghanistan can be reached. The Taliban will become a diminished force that will have little ability to negotiate or hold any presence in this area, Labarbera noted.

"Insurgents will not go to that place again," said Asmatullah. "In that region, the enemy is finished 100 percent."

Article by Staff Sgt. Ryan Sheldon, Army.mil