Afghan National Army soldier Taza Khan enters a local elder’s home while clearing compounds with U.S. Marines from 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, during Operation Tageer Shamal (Shifting Winds). (Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)
CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan (January 9, 2012) — Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces with Regimental Combat Team 5 have launched Operation Tageer Shamal (Shifting Winds), a clearing operation focused on removing the final strains of the insurgency in southern Helmand province.
A partnered force comprised of Afghan National Army soldiers with 2nd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps, Afghan police and Marines with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment began the operation, Jan. 4, moving to the outskirts of Garmsir district along the western side of the Helmand River, clearing the area of insurgent activity, weapons and improvised explosive device-making materials.
Lt. Col. Matthew Palma, commanding officer of 3/3, said the operation brought Afghan forces to a largely untouched area, enabling them to promote legitimate governance and remove remnants of insurgency.
Over the past few years, Afghan and coalition forces have operated side by side, driving insurgents from the green zones, or populated areas, of districts in southern Helmand. The few enemy fighters that remain from a decidedly weak insurgency have moved to the outskirts of these districts where, until now, the presence of the partnered forces has been minimal.
Col. Roger Turner, commanding officer of RCT-5, said the ability of Afghan forces to secure populations centers in southern Helmand has given the ANA and Marines a chance to extend security operations to these outlying areas.
“We’ve seen a definite increase in the confidence and ability of Afghan forces to conduct operations and secure their districts,” Turner said. “With Afghan police securing most of the green zones, the ANA has the opportunity to conduct larger and more complex operations, further enhancing their development.”
Operation Tageer Shamal is the first major partnered operation following the transfer of lead security responsibility in Marjah and Nawa districts to Afghan forces and the Afghan government. The transition of the neighboring districts was announced late last month by Helmand Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal, during a shura in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.
In preparation for the transition of lead security responsibility in the remaining southern Helmand districts, Marine forces are gradually shifting toward an advisory role as Afghan forces take lead in counterinsurgency operations.
Editor’s note: Regimental Combat Team 5 is assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.