Continuous and Unrelenting Progress in Helmand.
“There was an active powerful insurgency controlling the bulk of the population and the majority of the terrain”…..it was an insurgency that was very well organised with an efficient supply chain….today it’s quite a different province, progress has been sustained, it’s been continuous, and it’s been unrelenting.”
The Commanders of ISAF troops in Helmand province, where the vast majority of UK personnel deployed to Afghanistan are working, gave a briefing yesterday on progress made over the last 12 months.
US Major General Richard Mills, Commanding Officer Regional Command (SW) and Brigadier George Norton, Deputy CO RC (SW) spoke to the British media via a crackling video link between MOD Main Building and Camp Leatherneck (Bastion) in Helmand province.
General Mills described the situation in Helmand province a year ago, when he first took up command as CO RC(SW), as a very dark place:
“There was an active powerful insurgency controlling the bulk of the population and the majority of the terrain,” he said. The insurgent’s presence threatened the very existence of the government he continued, and said that the roads and such infrastructure as there was all came under their influence. In addition to all of that, they also were able to control the pace and scope of the violence using the production of narcotics to fund their activities, while simultaneously poisoning the rest of the world:
“It was an insurgency that was very well organised with an efficient supply chain,” said the General. At that time the Coalition was concentrating on controlling areas close to the river, it was very inwardly focussed maintaining small security bubbles:
“Our job when we arrived was to secure the populated areas, control the freedom of movement, reduce the insurgency and work alongside the Afghan National Security Forces and increase their capability.”
In addition to this, the task was to strengthen the government and convince the local population to trust the system of government and see it as the way forward:
“Today it’s quite a different province,” said General Mills. “Progress has been sustained, it’s been continuous, and it’s been unrelenting. Coalition forces now have unbroken control of the Helmand river valley, each population centre of RC(SW) is under our control, the security bubbles have been connected, and they’ve been extended, and the land between them is ours.”
Much of the insurgents have been pushed into the desert, he added, and in more than 2,000 engagements the Coalition forces have always prevailed. The result being that insurgent encounters are now reduced to what the troops describe as “shoot and scoot” skirmishes. They rarely stand and fight. The insurgent weapon of choice now is the improvised explosive device (IED)
To read the rest of this story and to appreciate the progress being made by ISAF troops in Helmand Province, click HERE.