CHORAH, Afghanistan - In southeastern Afghanistan, nestled against a mountain and descending into a rolling valley, lies the city of Chorah. A sparkling river snakes through orchards, fields, and mud buildings, and snow capped mountains fill the horizon.
A little way upstream in the Chorah Valley, insurgents are trying to close roads to cut supply routes to police checkpoints and are attempting to control water flow for irrigation to the farmlands.
“We heard from the locals that the Taliban were in the Karmisan area,” said District Governor Najibullah Popelzai, speaking of a village just northeast of Chorah. “We established three new checkpoints in Karmisan to stop the insurgent activity.”
The new checkpoints are manned by Afghan Local Police officers, and each has been assigned a commander.
“Now the Taliban is trying to close the road from Chorah to Karmisan so that those checkpoints can’t be supplied,” Najibullah said. “There are villages there, and the people want to join with the Afghan National Army or ALP to fight the insurgency.”
In the valley between Qalat and Karmisan, the ANA have implemented more night patrols to deter the Taliban from setting up ambushes. In response to the ANA’s efforts, the Taliban have started using local goat and sheep herders as spotters and ANA officials have discovered the Taliban is beginning to move west.
“We have to support the checkpoints and the patrol bases,” said 2nd Kandak Commander Lt. Col. Gul Agha. “We can’t allow the Taliban to shut down these roads, and we have to keep our checkpoints supplied. That’s why my men are patrolling more; and we will find the Taliban.”
Locals know the fighting season is imminent, and on Feb. 24, 2013, key members in the Chorah District met to discuss solutions to the recent insurgent movement.
Uruzgan Parliament representative Haji Obaidullah Barakzai was among those attending the shura. Seventeen Parliament members accompanied him to discuss the security of Chorah and education for the children.
During the meeting, Obaidullah praised the efforts of local leaders to ensure the safety of the people of Chorah and District Chief of Police Omar Khan ended the meeting with words of encouragement.
“We are in the firefight here, and we know the problems,” Khan said. “We have to solve them. We have to be a close unit. We have to work together. We have to take care of the civilians.”
The goal of the Taliban is to disrupt security in the distant areas of the district and attempt to occupy the population center. But even as the traditional fighting season draws closer, these strong Afghan leaders are working to drive the insurgents out and keep the quiet little city of Chorah safe and free from violence and intimidation.