NAWA, AFGHANISTAN, July 20, 2017 —
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, provincial governor and citizens of Nawa ceremoniously raised the Afghan national flag over the newly recaptured district center in the Nawa district of Helmand Province July 19, 2017.
The traffic circle was also renamed in honor of the security forces. The Taliban had previously named it the “suicide bomber square.”
“When we went [to Nawa], we named that roundabout after the heroes of our security forces. That roundabout is now ‘The Security Forces of Helmand’ and that was a good signal to raise the flag there,” said Hayatullah Hayat, Provincial Governor of Helmand Province.
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces cleared the Nawa district center in Helmand Province during Operation Maiwand Four July 17, 2017.
Following successful operations in Sangin in May and Marjah in June, ANDSF elements focused on bringing security and governance to the people of Nawa with support from U.S. Marines assigned to Task Force Southwest.
“We’re standing with our partners during this important operation in Nawa, whether that’s [tracking] their forces… or any kind of assistance they need,” said Capt. Colton Ducken, an advisor with the Task Force.
The blending of different elements of ANDSF, including the Afghan National Army 215th Corps, 505th Zone National Police and Afghan Border Police proved pivotal to the operation’s success.
“We saw that the ANA and the police worked well together, and that’s huge,” said Ducken. “That coordination was essential.”
Throughout the mission, ANDSF soldiers and police cleared routes of more than 100 improvised explosive devices, and while they met with resistance from enemy forces, suffered minimal casualties during the operation.
Once inside the district center, the elders and residents of Nawa worked with the soldiers and police to rid the area of insurgents.
“Once the [ANDSF elements] entered the district center, we saw good reactions from the local populace, whether that was the populace rejecting the Taliban looking to seek refuge in their houses or providing assistance to ANDSF during the operation,” said Ducken.
“With the support of the U.S. Marines, it’s been a great operation,” said ANA Lt. Col. Abdul Latif, the operations officer of 215th Corps. “We want to make sure the area is safe and that the people of Nawa live in peace and stability.”
Now under complete control of ANDSF, key governmental and military leaders in Helmand will work to establish a sustainable influence in the area.
“The way forward is to establish checkpoints and interact with the local populace to make sure governance is established,” said Ducken. “The hard part is establishing security in the area, which is what all the leadership is focused on now. They know the fight isn’t necessarily over, but they are up to the task and are focused on the way ahead.”
Coalition and Afghan forces understand the denial of insurgency throughout the province will be challenging, but are committed to working together to provide stability for all Afghans.
“I am very thankful to my Marine friends because without them, this operation would not have been possible,” said Latif. “With the support of international forces, we can help bring a better future for the people of Helmand.”