Story by Cpl. Adam Leyendecker
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan – Coalition forces officially transferred responsibility for security operations in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, to Afghan National Security Forces during a ceremony at provincial governor Gulab Mangal’s compound, July 20.
The transfer capped a process that had been ongoing over the last year as an increasing number of operations in the area have been planned and conducted by Afghans.
The handover at Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand and the province’s largest city, signified the start of Afghans taking responsibility for providing peace and stability to the region’s citizens, said Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Sheren Shah, commanding officer of 3rd Brigade, 215th Corps.
“Our men have picked up good skills from coalition forces and we are now ready to take over security,” said Sheren Shah.
The Afghan Local and National Police will be responsible for security operations conducted within the urban limits of Lashkar Gah, while the Afghan National Army will control operations conducted around the city until the police set up more security outposts around the city. The National Directorate of Security will assist each with gathering and delivering intelligence.
Coalition forces will remain in the area to help guide a smooth transition and provide advice to the Afghan Forces, said Lt. Col. Alistair Aitken, the commanding officer of Combined Forces Lashkar Gah.
Mangal released a statement following the ceremony in which he thanked the coalition forces and their families for the sacrifices they have made to help make the transition a reality.
“The sacrifices made by the coalition forces [over the last five] years, first led bravely by the British, then the strong Americans, and alongside great warriors from Denmark, and Estonia and other nations, will never be forgotten by our people,” Mangal said in the statement.
Additional photo here.