For the last nine months, Checkpoint (CP) Shingul has been manned jointly by ISAF and Afghan Police. Since April, members of B Company, 2 RGR, who are attached to 45 Commando Royal Marines, have been responsible for the CP and the development of the AUP who live and work there.
Over the last eight weeks, the Gurkhas have conducted over 100 partnered patrols with the AUP in the area - providing security and protection to the numerous villages nearby, deterring and preventing any insurgent activity in the area.
Numerous shuras and meetings with local nationals have confirmed that these patrols have made a significant impact; first against the insurgents who used to operate freely in the area; and second on the perceptions of the ability of Afghan forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) to provide security.
The improvements in security have been such that recently a decision was made by the Nad ‘Ali (NDA) District Chief of Police, Lieutenant Colonel Shahdi Khan, and the Commanding Officer of Combined Force NDA (South), Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Lee, that the conditions were right for the AUP to take over completely.
The transfer of CP Shingul itself took place in a short ceremony attended by Lt Col Khan, the local AUP Commander, and the Officer Commanding B Company, 2 RGR, Major James Murray.
After a lunch of traditional Gurkha and Afghan food, the respective commanders formalised the transfer with a handshake and the exchanging of gifts; the Gurkhas donating some inscribed hand-made furniture to the Afghans, who in turn presented Major Murray with a flag.
The AUP are delighted to have been given the opportunity to operate another CP on their own. Lt Col Khan said:
This is a good day for Nad ‘Ali and for the Afghan Government. Security is improving all the time, and today the police are delighted to stand up and take control of this area without the direct assistance of our ISAF friends. We shall ensure that the needs of the people in this area come first and shall continue to provide security in this area to the best of our ability.
Major Murray said:
This is another example of progress in Nad ‘Ali. Across this district as a whole, the locals have decisively rejected the insurgent who less than one year ago moved in this area with relative impunity. This result has GIRoA - fronted by the AUP rather than ISAF - reaching out to the communities of Chah-e Mirza, and through professional conduct demonstrating a persistent security presence.
The Gurkhas of B Company will now move to another checkpoint where they will continue to work alongside other units of the AUP across the wider Chah-e Mirza district. Major Murray added:
The people here have tasted security and they like it - the bazaars are open, the local school is beginning to flourish and the main road is soon to be black-topped. These are real and tangible indicators that GIRoA’s reach is broadening and deepening and there is a real appetite for progress and to build on the gains already made.
We will continue to support the AUP here for some time and will maintain our close relationship, but we are confident that they can continue to build on this platform and take NDA forward.
Captain Freddie Inglefield of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers is part of Combined Force NDA (South) and is responsible for co-ordinating the mentoring of Afghan security forces in the district. He said:
My job is to facilitate the passage of information between the various forces within the Afghan security services and ensure that procedures are adhered to. The AUP now has far more transparent accountability and is becoming an ever more professional organisation.
With more security checkpoints scheduled to be handed over in the near future, the footprint of ISAF forces will continue to reduce, leaving a greater Afghan security presence across the district.