New patrol base plans to bring peace to former Taliban stronghold
March 18, 2011
PATROL BASE MOHAMMED, Afghanistan -- A brand new patrol base in eastern Mirabad Valley, Afghanistan, promises to bring peace to an area considered a longstanding Taliban stronghold in Uruzgan province.
Patrol Base Mohammed, named after a fallen Afghan National Army, known as the ANA, soldier, is located near a village called Charmestan, which is known for Taliban activity and was previously inaccessible by coalition forces, said Australian Army Lt. Christian J. Johnston, Afghan mentor team leader for Combat Team B, 2nd Mentoring Task Force, Combined Team Uruzgan.
"From the previous bases that we've got, Charmestan has just been a little bit too far out of reach," said Johnston. "The distance is much more manageable from here. We can do dismounted patrols with ANA and Australians together and get that influence in there that we didn't have before."
Although Australian Army mentors will be accompanying the ANA on some of the initial patrols, the unique thing about Patrol Base Mohammed is it is the first Afghan National Security Force base, in Mirabad Valley, built from scratch solely for ANSF, said Australian Army Maj. Brenton J. Pearce, commander of Combat Team B, 2nd MTF, CTU.
Johnston said the base is a big step towards independence for the ANA - an all-important one for people to gaining confidence in the ANA.
"This is our base and these are our people," said ANA 1st Lt. Mirwais Amiri, infantry platoon commander for 3rd Company, 3rd Kandak (Battalion), 4th Brigade, 205th ANA Corps.
Amiri's unit now fully owns and operates Patrol Base Mohammed and can begin to bring stability to the region before the spring fighting season starts.
"What this base has provided is a hard shoulder in the Mirabad Valley," said Pearce. "Now that we've denied the insurgents a concentration area, it is going to make their operations leading into the spring and summer a lot more difficult to coordinate."
Pearce said the reason for this is because the Mirabad Valley is the eastern and most direct route from Pakistan into Uruzgan province. By denying insurgents this route, the Taliban cannot have free access to weapons, supplies or personnel.
Since the construction of the base, security in the valley has increased tenfold, said Johnston.
"The local community has expressed that they want security and I agree with them," said Pierce. "Security out here, in the past, has really been nonexistent. Now with the presence of [Afghan National Security Forces], a foundation has been built for development."