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British cavalry soldiers from C Squadron of the Royal Dragoon Guards protect and rebuild the village of Gorup-e Shesh Kalay near Nad 'Ali, following Operation MOSHTARAK.
The cavalry soldiers, more used to moving around the battlefield in armoured reconnaissance vehicles, are carrying out a dismounted infantry role during their six-month tour of Afghanistan.
They have recently taken over a patrol base in the southern part of the Nad ‘Ali district. The location was cleared of Taliban insurgents during Operation MOSHTARAK earlier in the year.
The mission for the junior officer-in-charge, Lieutenant Nick Landon, is to provide security and redevelopment within the village’s surrounding area.
Lt Landon explained:
Prior to Op MOSHTARAK taking place to the south of Nad ‘Ali, this place was dominated by the Taliban.
Certainly, when the first ISAF forces moved into this area they were unable to push south any more than 300 metres before they would see firefights with the enemy.
Since MOSHTARAK has pushed the Taliban further to the south, the locals have seen a number of improvements to the village - reconstruction projects helped by ISAF, and the Afghan National Police working with the village elder.
We’ve currently got a ‘cash-for-works’ project ongoing just outside the patrol base to clear some irrigation ditches, allowing better irrigation to the farmers’ crops and improving the quality of the road surface just out to the west.
Although fighting has reduced, the soldiers are still aware of the dangers of carrying out redevelopment work on the front line.
Lt Landon continued:
There is far less fighting around Gorup-e Shesh than there was during Op MOSHTARAK.
However, in the last few weeks we’ve had a number of shoots onto the sangars [watchtowers] in the patrol base, which has helped keep the guys focused. It could very quickly turn kinetic.
ISAF’s presence near Gorup-e Shesh Kalay is an example of the Task Force Helmand Commander’s focus to ‘clear’, ‘hold’, and ‘build’ key population areas around the Green Zone.
By providing joint security on the ground with ISAF and Afghan security forces, redevelopment projects with the locals can be undertaken, allowing communities to rebuild their lives:
Now that ISAF are showing that we can clear the Taliban, and once the Taliban have gone we can bring reconstruction and development to the towns, we’re finding that a lot of local nationals are coming to the patrol base for assistance,” added Lt Landon.