SHORSHORAK, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers with 1st Brigade, 215th Corps conducted a clearing operation as part of the ongoing Operation Tageer Shamal (Shifting Winds) here Jan. 12-14.
Partnered with the Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, soldiers with the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th Kandaks of 1/215 participated in the clear of this outlying area of Nawa district.
“The purpose of the Shorshorak clear was to protect the Afghan people from the dangerous actions of enemy fighters,” said Capt. Patrick E. Kinser, commanding officer of Fox Company, 2/6. “At the same time, this operation served to strengthen the relationship between the people of Shorshorak and Afghan National Security Forces.”
Over the past five years, coalition forces have operated with Afghan forces to defeat the insurgency in the central Helmand River valley. Driven from the green zones, or populated areas, of districts in southern Helmand, enemy fighters have sought refuge in bed-down locations west of the Helmand River.
“The ANA did well in sweeping the area for anything that could be beneficial to the insurgency,” said Lt. Col. Matthew T. Morrissey, commanding officer of 2/6. “They are prepared to respond to any threat that may occur.”
Supported from an overwatch position by Marines with 2/6, ANA soldiers cleared the length of Shorshorak from north to south, a total of 20 kilometers. The soldiers conducted methodical searches of suspicious compounds, looking for indicators of insurgent activity including weapons caches and improvised explosive device-making materials.
“This operation was very successful because of the work done by the ANA,” Morrissey said. “They provided logistical support and carried out the mission on their own,”
“The ANA is a competent, capable and professional force that has the ability to provide security for their people,” added Kinser. “This operation has demonstrated to the population that their army cares about them and is united in fighting the insurgency.”
Although the ANA does not frequently conduct this type of large scale clearing operation, the soldiers do interact with the local population on a daily basis and routinely clear compounds identified by local residents as security threats. Following the clear, ANA leaders held a shura with local elders to discuss the current security situation and potential challenges in the future.
“The ANA did all the planning and coordination prior to executing the operation,” Kinser said. “They took the lead in clearing the enemy from the area, and strengthened their ties with the population by holding a shura with local elders.”
Throughout the operation, Marines and sailors with 2/6 followed in support of their Afghan counterparts, providing tactical guidance, limited logistical support and medical evacuation capabilities in the event the partnered force took casualties.
This decreased level of direct involvement by coalition forces is a trend reflected in partnered operations across southern Helmand province. With the recent transition of lead security authority of Marjah and Nawa districts to the Afghan government, Marine forces are shifting toward an advisory role and Afghan forces are beginning to take the lead in counterinsurgency operations.
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghanistan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling the ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
This work, Operation Tageer Shamal: ANA conducts clearing operation through Shorshorak, by Cpl Johnny Merkley, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.