HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN, Sept. 29, 2017 —
Multiple elements of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are working in unison to clear Gereshk and surrounding areas of insurgency during Operation Maiwand Six.
U.S. Marine advisors with Task Force Southwest are assisting their counterparts throughout Maiwand Six, which began Sept. 23, 2017. Several advisors relocated to the Gereshk area to support the Afghans with battle tracking and command and control for the duration of the mission.
“They’ve made substantial progress,” said U.S. Marine Capt. John Quail, the operations advisor to the Afghan National Army 215th Corps with Task Force Southwest. “They cleared the Yakchal area, which has historically had high levels of enemy presence. It was a joint effort between the [Afghan National] Police, the National Directorate of Security, and the 3rd Brigade, 215th Corps.”
The ability of numerous ANDSF components to combat and clear the enemy from districts throughout Helmand province has proved crucial in recent success against insurgency.
“Because we had good cooperation between ANDSF, we were able to clear the villages, and the enemy sustained a lot of casualties. They were completely demoralized, and unable to fight against the ANDSF,” said ANA Brig. Gen. Mohammed Ghani, the executive officer of 215th Corps.
The advisors are simultaneously battle tracking the Afghans while developing command and control nodes for 3rd Brigade.
“They cleared north to south, all the way back to Lashkar Gah, which was huge. It really went past our expectations…. they followed that up with local clearing operations around Gereshk as well, continuously putting the enemy on their heels,” said Quail.
According to Ghani, Afghan forces destroyed 15 improvised explosive device-making facilities during the first phase of the operation.
“We were really successful in our first plan, and are preparing to complete our second,” said Ghani.
A second group of Task Force advisors are also building the capabilities of their 1st Brigade counterparts at Camp New Garmsir as part of the recently released South Asia strategy.
“We are right here with them doing it every step of the way,” said Quail. “We advise at the Corps level, and in this case at both the Corps and Brigade level, which is very important, and we’ve already seen a lot of benefits just by being out here with them.”
Enhancing tactics, techniques and procedures at subordinate echelons will be an enduring task throughout Helmand, and will allow for more consistent growth of 215th Corps as a whole.
“Advising at the lower levels gives us a better understanding of what the problems are throughout the 215th Corps. By getting out to the brigades and seeing the issues, it helps us transfer those issues back to the Corps level and fix those problems.”
Task Force Southwest and ANDSF are committed to strengthening governmental influence and destroying the enemy within the province.
“We will continue to do these operations throughout Helmand province,” said Ghani. “Our aim is to provide a safe, secure environment for all of the people here.”