Operation Moshtarak proves successful during first anniversary assessments
Helmand Province’s progression from a Taliban-controlled area to a civil functioning society was highlighted this week in multiple press conferences and ribbon cuttings.
February is the anniversary of Operation Moshtarak, the Afghan-led initiative to assert government authority in the center of Helmand province. In one year, much progress has been made.
“A year ago [Marjah] was the Taliban capital of Helmand province, a completely controlled Taliban area,” Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commanding general of Regional Command Southwest, during a press conference in Helmand Feb. 14. “That has changed 180 degrees in the past year, and it’s now a small farm town that is vibrant with five bazaars with a great number of customers and business on every day of the week. It’s a great success story by the government of Afghanistan and what they have done to stand up a secure environment.”
Schools have reopened in Marjah, with several hundred children attending class.
Garmsir district, Helmand province, also made progress on Feb. 15, with the ribbon cutting for a girl’s school.
“The school will be able to teach almost 180 girls,” said German Army Gen. Josef Blotz, ISAF spokesman during a press conference in Kabul today.
The school house was a former women’s center before the Taliban closed the facility to prevent women from gathering in public.
“In a district where we literally just cleared the Taliban from walking the streets, you’ve got a community that’s willing to step forward and open a girls’ school,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Reid, commander, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regimen, Patrol Base Gorgak, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the school.
The citizens of Helmand are also helping Afghan and coalition forces to end drug trafficking in the province buy providing tips on Taliban movements and poppy cultivation.
“Poppy cultivation has been cut to minimal levels in central Marjah, and the drug bazaar has been shut down,” said Blotz. “Governor Mangal is leading the way to decrease narcotics trafficking throughout Helmand, where more than two thirds of all cultivation in Afghanistan in 2008 occurred.
Poppy cultivation in the province has been reduced by 37 percent, which further degrades the power of the Taliban, who have lost their strongholds in Marjah, said Blotz.
Click here for the ISAF website