News: Afghans see continued success in Sangin Valley
Story by Cpl. Joshua Young
FORWARD OPERATING BASE ROBINSON, Afghanistan - Marines with Security Force Assistance Advisor Team 2-215 visited Afghan National Army outposts near Forward Operating Base Robinson, Feb. 24.
Colonel AbdulHai Neshat, the executive officer of 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, ANA, invited Col. Christopher Douglas, the team leader of SFAAT 2-215, to visit the outposts and see the progress that was made in a recent operation, Oqab 144.
“It was pretty inspiring knowing what they had cleared and put in place as a result of Oqab 144, seeing that it’s still there and the ANA are still providing security with the police,” said Douglas, a Marine Corps reservist from Ballston Spa, N.Y. “It’s really positive. The bottom line here in Sangin, the ANA are still standing.”
The outposts overlook the Sangin Valley and Route 611, and are vital to mission success in the region, said Neshat. During the operation, several bridges were put in place over the Nahr-e Saraj Canal. The bridges will allow easier access for the ANA and Afghan police to cross the canal between outposts and are open for use
by the local populace.
They serve as a literal and metaphorical bridge between the ANA and the people. Before the bridges were in place, people would have to walk several miles to cross a bridge put in place by coalition forces or risk going into the canal to cross.
“I showed them the areas where the operation went,” Neshat said. “That was great. I think the enemy is no longer in those areas where they were influencing before. Right now, people are working. Sometimes the Taliban come to those areas, but have to escape back. They can’t stay. They don’t have their positions there now. The ANA is going to guard their position.”
Oqab 144 was conducted to clear the Sangin Valley of hostile threats in preparation for to the upcoming Afghan presidential elections. The desire of the brigade is to provide a safe voting environment for the citizens.
“We’re looking forward to how we’re going to support the elections and bring people to vote,” Neshat said. “The concern is to facilitate the people coming to these polls. The enemy wants to hurt people and entrap the election. We are planning to do more operations before the elections and we have a security plan for it. Hopefully we succeed.”
Douglas expressed his confidence in the ability of the 2nd Brigade to effectively support the election process.
“They’ve been planning, coordinating and reaching out to all the other Afghan partners between the police and the governance,” Douglas said. “I believe we’re going to see success in that area.”
Oqab 144 served as the first successful Afghan National Security Force operation in the Sangin Valley completed solely by Afghan forces with coalition forces in an advisory-only role.
“Afghans came up with their own solution and they’re solving the problems that come up,” said Maj. Scott Shadforth, the forward air controller for SFAAT 2-215. “They know what needs to get done here. They understand the geography, the culture, the ethnicity, and a lot better than we’ll ever be able to.”