News: Afghan National Security Forces lead the way in counternarcotics mission
Story by Staff Sgt. Nazly Confesor
TALUKAN, Afghanistan - In a combined effort to restore stability and security in southern Kandahar, Afghan National Security Forces seized approximately 50 pounds of processed marijuana and detained a person of interest in the village of Talukan during a recent patrol.
Although the fighting season is over, insurgents continue to rely on illicit drugs like poppy and marijuana as a source of revenue to acquire weapons for the 2012 fighting season.
According to U.S. Army 1st Lt. Eric Catalanotti, an infantry officer and platoon leader for C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, the district of Panjwa’i “has always been a strongpoint for multiple Taliban fighters, both as a staging ground and operations.”
As U.S. forces begin to draw down in preparation for their 2014 exit, ANSF are taking over operations previously conducted by U.S. and coalition forces.
In recent weeks, multiple agencies from the Afghan National Security Forces have been working together in planning and executing Afghan-led operations to secure the Panjwa’i district from insurgency.
Officials from the ANA, Afghan National Police, Afghan Uniform Police and the Afghan National Civil Order Police met at Forward Operating Base Zangabad in the Panjwa’i district a day prior to the Jan. 5 operation to coordinate the details.
“ANP, ANA and ANCOP with the support of the AUP had intelligence regarding a possible hashish or drug compound,” said Catalanotti. “They planned and executed the mission,” he said.
Approximately 100 ANSF soldiers provided security and support around the suspected drug compound, while an Afghan counter- narcotics officer, assisted by ANSF examined the processed marijuana and interviewed the family members of the detainee.
Seeing a large presence of ANSF around the area, insurgents took the opportunity to open fire as ANSF and the 3-21st Infantry were leaving the compound area. The firefight ended with no injuries when U.S. forces called in for air support.
The mission sent a clear message to the counternarcotics fight, that the growth of narcotics will not be tolerated in the district, and anyone who is caught will face charges.
“Today’s mission was a success. We are very happy that the ANP, ANA, AUP and the narcotics police are doing combined missions,” said ANA Capt. Sufiullah, fire team support officer, 2nd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th ATAL Corps.