Australian soldiers patrol with the Afghan National Army in the Mirabad Valley Region of Uruzgan Province.
URUZGAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 25, 2010) - A major operation being conducted by Australian and Afghan National Army (ANA) Forces is being hailed as the start of a bright future for the people of the Mirabad Valley Region in Uruzgan Province.
The Commanding Officer of the Second Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF-2), Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hocking, said establishing security is the first important step in improving the lives of the Afghan population.
“There’s no doubt the continued presence of soldiers in the Mirabad Valley Region has dramatically improved security, which is now leading to development, ultimately improving lives of the local population now and well into the future,” Lieutenant Colonel Hocking said.
Operation Pelatel Man’a involves the Uruzgan-based ANA 4th Brigade, MRTF-2, Dutch soldiers, and other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners.
More than 30 weapons caches have been found since the operation began on 1 January 2010. Their contents have included rocket propelled grenades and mortars, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) components and thousands of rounds of small arms ammunition.
Australian mentors are working closely with ANA soldiers, who have found some of the caches independently from coalition forces.
“During searching the quala, I found two IEDs, that’s anti-tank or anti-vehicles, not anti-person (IEDs),” said Private Ihsan, an Engineer with the 2nd Infantry Kandak of the ANA 4th Brigade.
“I like to be with the Army because it’s very important for me when I find some things I am told ‘you did a good job’.”
Platoon commander with the 2nd Infantry Kandak, Lieutenant Zubair, said the operation has boosted his soldiers’ confidence, reinforcing the belief that they can defeat the insurgency.
“My message is hope for the whole country, and for good security here in this area,” said Lieutenant Zubair.
“I like working together with all coalition forces and whenever we are working with them, there is a kind of knowledge for our soldiers and for myself. Everyday, we learn new things here.”
The cache finds have saved lives and hampered the insurgent’s ability to use IEDs, which continue to be the insurgent’s weapon of choice and so often indiscriminately kill innocent civilians.
One of the Australian mentors, Sergeant Bradley Foster, said there are a lot of small achievements that are hard to measure at times, however, they all add up to building capability for the ANA.
“Whether it’s just simple things, getting all their weapons zeroed, or for them to be able to do more complex manoeuvre, there’s been a great deal of achievements made in that area,” Sergeant Foster said.
Meetings are being held with key leaders throughout the Mirabad Valley Region to listen to their issues and work out ways of helping the local population, with the catch phrase being “help us, help you”.
“Our efforts are now turning to the delivery of small scale development activities that will improve the daily lives of the people,” Lieutenant Colonel Hocking said. “Once the people trust the Government, this will enable the Government to bring economic development, which will be the lynch pin for long term security and stability in Afghanistan.”
Operations such as these support Australia’s strong commitment to building the capabilities of the ANA so that it can maintain security within Uruzgan Province.