Afghans take security lead in Lashkar Gah
British troops have formally handed the lead responsibility for security to Afghan forces in the capital of Helmand province today, a significant milestone in a process of transition that will continue to 2014 and beyond.
Lashkar Gah, where British troops have operated since 2006, is the fourth of seven districts across Afghanistan where responsibility for security is gradually shifting from ISAF forces to their Afghan counterparts.
Afghan Army and Police units have been assuming responsibility for security in the town over recent months. Today, no coalition troops are involved in the day-to-day security of the bustling town.
British forces will stay in the remainder of central Helmand province where they will continue to develop the capability and capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
”]In support of the military effort to strengthen the ANSF, British and international civilians are successfully building structures of accountable government, with budgets and priorities tied to the population’s needs, and supporting efforts to reintegrate Taliban fighters.
The UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) continues to move away from direct delivery in Helmand to supporting the increasingly capable Afghan systems now in place.
In an open letter, Helmand’s provincial governor, Gulab Mangal, said:
“Today sees first area in Lashkar Gah transfer to the sons of Afghanistan, who have trained hard for this job and already fight bravely to provide security over many months in Lashkar Gah, defeating the enemy everywhere. Our Afghan National Security Forces provided full security for the elections in all of Helmand last September, and the Afghan commanders planned the event with very few problems.
“Every day I wake up in Helmand proud to be an Afghan. Today, I am especially proud that the people of Helmand, like the other places in Afghanistan, are starting to take control of this beautiful province that has been my proud home for many years.
“The sacrifices made by the coalition forces, in five years, first led bravely by the British, then the strong Americans, and alongside great warriors from Denmark and Estonia and other nations, will never be forgotten by our people.”
The Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, said:
“The Afghan National Security Forces have proven they are capable of delivering security to the local people of Lashkar Gah, and today’s ceremony recognises this.”The ANSF already provide security in Lashkar Gah and the capacity of local government is improving, both of which are allowing normal life to return to large areas of the municipality. All of this means we have a solid base to build on as we work with our Afghan and international partners towards full transition – security, governance and development – over the coming years.
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