Work by elements of Task Force Helmand and local Afghan National Army units over recent weeks has helped bring increased security to Gereshk in central Helmand.
One such example of the improved security has been the opening up of the main route from Gereshk to Lashkar Gah which was previously closed because of the number of insurgent IEDs.
When Brigadier Richard Felton, Commander of Task Force Helmand, visited the Loy Adera area of Babaji in April with Governor Gulab Mangal, the Governor was disappointed to hear that a section of the main route from Gereshk to Lashkar Gah was closed because of the IEDs.
This was the impetus for the Left Flank of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards to set to work.
After a fortnight of intense activity, the Scots Guards have, with their Afghan National Security Forces partners and local nationals, opened up the five-kilometre stretch of the route.
Brigadier Felton was the first senior officer to drive all the way from Lashkar Gah to Loy Adera. He met the local Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and Counter-Narcotics Police who lead operations in the area with ISAF support.
Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Jopp, Commanding Officer of Combined Force Lashkar Gah, said:
The incredible men and women of the Royal Engineer search and Royal Logistic Corps bomb disposal teams did a great job taking 20 IEDs out of the ground, often under fire.
We have established a number of new checkpoints where we partner the Afghan Army and Police.
We cleared it together, we’ll hold it together, and we’ll build it together.
With increased security and partnership in mind, 3/3/215 Kandak of the Afghan National Army has now been deployed for just over a month, with the Heavy Weapons Tolay (unit) embedded in Camp Gereshk.
Their main aim and task is providing security and reassurance in the Gereshk area.
A call sign (unit) from the 3/215 Brigade Advisory Group has deployed daily, advising and supporting the Tolay and on occasion partnering Danish troops.
Led by the Afghan National Police, with force protection provided by the Afghan National Army, this has proven to be a great success, welcomed by the civilian population, and has seen a dramatic improvement in the amount of crime and insurgent activity in the area.
Freedom of movement within Gereshk has increased thanks to the third and sixth Kandaks of the Afghan National Army.
Although the threat from IEDs in this area is very real, the presence of the Afghan National Army deters the majority of those trying to disrupt daily routine.
A call sign with the Danish Military Police has increased the amount of patrols along Highway 1 by 50 per cent, including a regular vanguard for an operation.
The 3/3/215 Kandak Commander meanwhile now leads the planning conference for the deployment of troops on this operation. This is a major step forward in partnering which has demonstrated to ISAF troops the capabilities of the Afghan National Army.
ISAF commanders have commented that the 3/3/215 Commander has made quite an impact within the Upper Gereshk Valley, with his presence and focus being noticed at all levels.