By capitalising on the growing capability of the Afghan security forces and previous gains made by ISAF, Patrol Base Silab has been handed over to the Afghan National Civil Order Police. This is the first checkpoint to be handed over to Afghan security forces in Nad ‘Ali and is a key stage in the transition to complete Afghan security control.
The Vikings have been working in Nad ‘Ali since their recent deployment to Helmand in March. The district is the large agricultural heartland of central Helmand stretching between the urban centres of Gereshk and Lashkar Gah.
The early stages of transition in the district began last winter. Over the coming months further checkpoint handovers are expected as the Afghan forces take on more responsibility for security in the area.
Corporal David Cadman, reflecting on the progress made since his last deployment with the Vikings in 2007, said:
I was out here over five years ago and the difference in the professional capability of the Afghans is astronomical. As we patrolled from Silab for the last time we all looked back; I felt confident that we had made a positive step towards security transition.
The Vikings, with the help of the Royal Engineers, ensured that the patrol base was in good order before handing it over, refurbishing the showers and checking that the guard towers were in a good state.
Officer Commanding B (Suffolk) Company, Major Adam Wolfe, and the new Commander of Patrol Base Silab, Lieutenant Haji Zainoulla, shook hands to officially end British control of the outpost.
Major Wolfe passed on his regards and his respects before the men of B (Suffolk) Company patrolled for one last time out of a base now operated entirely by Afghan security forces. Major Wolfe said:
Both the Afghans and British forces have worked hard to make Silab a place that can be defended and occupied without overstretching either the Afghan security forces or ISAF. Its location is a strategic position in the area that places any force in a strong position to deal with the insurgent threat.
The professionalism and capability of the Afghans has reached the point where we have confidence in their abilities. I was proud to shake hands with Lieutenant Zainoulla before we departed, content further progress has been made towards transition.
Between now and the beginning of September a further five locations will be handed over to the Afghan security forces, two sites will be improved, and some will be closed completely as stability improves in the Nad ‘Ali area.