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Afghan troops conduct first ground-holding operation in Helmand

Members of the Afghan National Army in Helmand have launched Operation OMID CHAR, described as their most significant operation yet.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Operation OMID CHAR, or ‘Hope Four’ in English, is a major operation, building on previous Afghan National Security Forces operations which have been carried out in conjunction with International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops.

Whilst in the past ISAF forces have taken a more proactive role, this time the operation has been completely devised and led by forces from the 3rd Brigade of 215 Maiwand Corps of the Afghan National Army (known as 3/215 Brigade), in close consultation with the district governor.

The brigade has also worked closely with the chief of police in Nahr-e Saraj, ensuring all authorities are co-ordinated in their response to the operation.

The operation will secure a key area near Gereshk in Nahr-e Saraj district, restrict Taliban freedom of movement, and see a higher profile Afghan National Army (ANA) presence in what is currently an area suffering from insurgent influence.

3/215 Brigade’s British mentors, from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, are on hand to observe and support throughout the operation when required.

But, for the first time, engineering, artillery, counter-IED and reconnaissance support are being carried out by the ANA’s own integral capability.

The operation began on 17 October, and the initial phase has already been successfully completed, with clearances having taken place in settlements around the area of Gerday Ghundey.

At the end of the first day of the operation, General Sherin Shah, Commander of 3/215 Brigade, conducted a shura with local elders in the village of Saidan.

Colonel Amin Jan, Executive Officer of 3/215 Brigade ANA, said:

Fundamentally, Operation OMID CHAR has been planned and initiated by Afghan National Army officers. There will also be Afghan National Police involved too, but ISAF will only be there in a supporting role.

We are conducting this operation for the benefit of the local people because many have brought their complaints about the Taliban in the area to us. It is an important area for the insurgents.

They use it as a base to come around our provincial capital Lashkar Gah to threaten the local people and put them in danger. There is also a threat to Gereshk and surrounding areas.

This operation will bring peace and security and provide the people of the area with the opportunity to live in a peaceful environment. It will also create job opportunities for local people.

Brigadier James Chiswell, Commander of the British-led Task Force Helmand, said:

Afghan-conceived, planned and led operations represent the future of security in Helmand province.

3/215 Brigade of the Afghan National Army has become a formidable fighting force and the importance of demonstrating their capability in support of the local population should not be underestimated.

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Published 20 October 2010