HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan troops cleared a Taliban stronghold the Yakchal Valley, with the support of International Security Assistance Forces, during Operation Now Roz, March 16 - 19. <br /> <br /> During the operation, the Afghan National Security Forces discovered more than 40 improvised explosive devices, arrested known Taliban members and discovered caches which included IED components and suicide vests. <br /> <br /> Senior Afghan National Army leadership planned and led the operation to secure the objective.<br /> <br /> “The ANA seemed to dominate the ground pretty effectively,” said British Sgt. Chris G. Bannon, a platoon sergeant with British Advisory Group, 3rd Kandak, 215th Corps, (Two Rifles Battle Group). “They had a positive effect on local nationals, who were pleased to see the ANA. It’s quite easy to say that their presence on the ground forced the insurgents out.”<br /> <br /> After several years of developing the ANA, British soldiers on their second tour of duty in Afghanistan note significant improvement in the ANSF capabilities.<br /> <br /> “I think this is definitely a step forward,” said Bannon, 29, from Leyburn, Yorkshire. “I saw the ANA company a couple years ago and they wouldn’t manage it. It’s better now. The ANA are independent. It’s good to see them taking the lead in their country.”<br /> <br /> The ANSF forces weren’t the only ones on the ground. British and Danish troops were there too, but only in a supporting role.<br /> <br /> “The only things they ever can need from us is helicopter-based casualty evacuation, fires, and (surveillance),” said British Capt. Oliver C.S. Little, a Tolay Advisor Training Team commander with Two Rifles. “Having said that, they’re not going to have it once we leave.”<br /> <br /> Little, 26, from Tisbury, Wiltshire, added that the ANSF will need to find ways around that and have begun to plan accordingly.<br /> <br /> “As we’ve seen on this operation, they can get a casualty out on the ground,” said Little. “They can do it very quickly, so they are more than capable of going it alone.” <br /> <br /> While the roles of the ISAF and the ANSF are changing, the Afghan troops are building on their knowledge of their homeland and have begun to fight in a way which the local population can support. <br /> <br /> “Their concepts and the way they do things is different to ours, given the fact they are not a western army,” said Bannon. “They get the job done in good order, and they are respected by the local nationals.”<br /> <br /> The mission did more than clear a historically strong Taliban area, it showed that the ANSF are growing in professionalism. <br /> <br /> “It sent the message out to the insurgents that the ANSF are completely capable of planning and mounting large operations such as (Operation Now Roz) successfully,” said Bannon.