British troops first entered Nad ‘Ali in 2008 and worked to clear the area of insurgent activity and intimidation while building and developing the capabilities of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP).
As the Afghan security forces have planned, led and executed a successful 2013 fighting season, the conditions are right for UK troops to withdraw.
Nad ‘Ali now has effective and accountable governance, with the ANA preventing insurgents from infiltrating the district and the ANP providing security in the protected community.
Soldiers of 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, the last unit stationed in the area, have left behind a Nad ‘Ali that has been completely transformed; it now boasts a bustling bazaar, 29 schools, with almost 10,000 children in education (over 1,000 of whom are girls), and 4 healthcare clinics.
The district entered transition in 2011 and the latest polling evidence by the Provincial Reconstruction Team shows that the local police have an approval rating of over 90%.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
The courage of all of our Armed Forces who have served in the Nad ‘Ali district of Helmand province over the past 5 years has been impressive. Their commitment and hard work first helped to secure the area and they then trained Afghan forces to take on security responsibility for this district.
It is these Afghan forces, developed and trained by UK personnel, who will ensure that Afghanistan never again provides a safe haven for terrorists.
The last British base to close in the area was Forward Operating Base Shawqat, situated in the heart of Nad ‘Ali.
In a ceremony at the district governor’s compound, Brigadier Rupert Jones, Commander Task Force Helmand, paid tribute to the UK and Afghan forces who had contributed to security in Nad ‘Ali.
Brigadier Jones said:
When British forces first arrived in Nad ‘Ali many people had fled their homes, but through the efforts of the Afghan security forces, their ISAF partners and the courage of the Afghan people the district has been transformed over time.
The people of Nad ‘Ali no longer talk about security; they talk about schools, about healthcare and about the economy.
It is a significant mark of the progress made in Nad ‘Ali, as in other parts of the country, that ISAF troops no longer have a presence in the district and security is delivered routinely by Afghan forces.
The District Governor of Nad ‘Ali, Mohammad Ibrahim, said:
Afghan security forces have been well trained by the British forces. Now that the British troops are leaving, the Afghan population is ready to put their trust in the Afghan security forces.
On behalf of the population of Nad ‘Ali I would like to thank the British forces and government for their support during these years of fighting the insurgency.
The Afghan forces and the Afghan government stand ready to uphold the gains that the British troops have made.