Soldiers in Afghanistan continue mission as 2013 arrives
December 31, 2012
By David Vergun
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 31, 2012) -- As Americans ring in the new year, Soldiers, Afghan security forces and their coalition partners are engaged in combat, training and humanitarian operations.
Fighting in Afghanistan continues, as evidenced by battlefront dispatches dated Dec. 31.
It was confirmed that a top Taliban leader in the Andar district of Ghazni province was arrested by Afghan and coalition security forces, according to an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command operational update.
"As one of the most senior Taliban leaders in the district, the insurgent executed tactical planning, kidnapping operations, detainee operations and strategic planning to support the Taliban insurgency. He was directly involved in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and in contact with local Taliban leadership," the report states.
Additionally, a Taliban leader was arrested in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province. The leader commanded a direct action cell operating in the district. He also planned and coordinated multiple ambushes and IED attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, according to the ISAF report.
A Haqqani leader in the Pul-e 'Alam district of Logar province, was arrested as well, the report said. The leader coordinated and prepared improvised explosive device, or IED, attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also facilitated the distribution of weapons, IEDs and suicide vests to insurgents throughout the district, the report states.
The report continues with details concerning other combat operations around the country.
During a security operation in search of a Taliban leader in the Andar district of Ghazni province, two insurgents were arrested by an Afghan and coalition security force. The leader commands a large number of insurgents and manages IED attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
Afghan and coalition forces killed several armed insurgents during an operation in the Ghaziabad district of Kunar province as well. During the operation, the security force observed the armed individuals engaged in hostile activity and engaged them.
AFGHANS TAKING LEAD
Soldiers continue to train Afghan police and security forces as U.S. forces continue to draw down. And now, Afghans themselves are training other Afghans.
For example, at Camp Parsa, an Afghan National Army-led, six-week counter-IED course is set to graduate 40 Afghan soldiers who will be proficient at defeating the IED threat.
Although the Afghan National Army, or ANA, initiated the training and implementation of the course, U.S. Soldiers provide assistance to ensure the trainers are taught the latest lessons on counter-IED tactics.
"We conduct a train-the-trainer effort here," said Capt. Michael Wilda, officer in charge of the counter-IED partnership.
Even though U.S. Soldiers offer assistance, little is needed or requested, he said.
"These guys are really good at what they do," Wilda said. "Very seldom do they ask much of us. When they do, we give them our advice and ensure they understand what we're showing them and then they run with it."
According to an ISAF report, from January 2008 to September 2012, IEDs accounted for an estimated 63 percent of all casualties sustained by the Afghan and ISAF forces.
During the summer of 2013, it is expected that Afghan forces will be in the lead for security across the country. Twenty-three of Afghanistan's 34 provinces are now entirely in the transition process, according to a ISAF report released Dec. 31.
GREATER ROLE FOR WOMEN
Soldiers and coalition partners met at Bagram Airfield this month to develop a unified plan to recruit women into the Afghanistan police force and provide them with important training.
"This conference enabled us to draft a basic training instruction plan," said Lt. Col. Scott Perrenod, Regional Command - East, deputy chief reintegration officer. "We added very important elements to include literacy, tactical questioning, evidence-based operations and witness statements, and an Afghan peace and reintegration program."
Nadereh C. Lee, the RC-East and Combined Joint Task Force-1 senior development officer and deputy senior civilian representative, attended the conference to ensure a civilian perspective was represented.
"It's critical to have women involved in everything here to be able to move forward in Afghanistan," Lee said. "We need to start thinking of women differently, as powerful actors economically, in security forces and in every aspect of Afghan life."
U.S. Soldiers continue to help Afghans with critical infrastructure improvements. For example, one of the many projects of the Army Corps of Engineers is to provide more reliable electricity to Kandahar by the end of 2013. This includes work on substations and transmission lines.
"These capital improvement projects will be the enduring legacy of coalition and U.S. efforts from the last decade," said Lt. Col. Robert Bensburg, officer in charge of infrastructure in RC-South's Stability Division. "The Afghan government will be the recipient of a great opportunity to provide multiple levels of services to its citizens that would most probably not have been available for another 30 years."
ESTABLISHING RULE OF LAW
In 2012, the Afghan criminal justice system continued to make strides in implementing the rule of law, and demonstrating its national sovereignty in the criminal justice system at the Justice Center in Parwan, or JCIP.
At the JCIP, the Afghans are partnering with the Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan. ROLFF-A's mission is to provide essential field capabilities, liaison and security to partnered Afghan and coalition civil-military teams to build Afghan criminal justice capacity, increase access to dispute resolution services, fight corruption and promote the legitimacy of the Afghan government.
In 2012, about 1,200 criminal cases were completed, as compared to only 436 in a 2011. These include primary level, juvenile and appellate court cases.
"These numbers depict a steady increase in the court's ability to dispense fair and impartial Afghan justice, which serves as a demonstrable example of Afghan sovereignty," said Brig. Gen. Ural D. Glanville, ROLFF-A commander.
"This is a total effort by our Afghan partners," Glanville continued. "Afghan judges, Afghan prosecutors and Afghan defense counsel are demonstrating their resolve and commitment to bringing the rule of law to their nation."
Glanville said the JCIP is a "clear example" of a working partnership between the Afghan government and coalition forces to bring to justice those who violate the laws of Afghanistan "in a fair, equitable and transparent manner."
During a visit to Afghanistan this month, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta met with U.S. commanders and later told reporters that "to a person, (U.S. commanders) said the Afghan forces are proving they can do the job."
Panetta said that continued coalition support for the Afghan forces will include a focus on leadership development, an effort to build their planning, logistics and procurement capabilities, and training that will allow them to provide larger and more complex operations on the battlefield.
Recent progress on security in Afghanistan "makes it all the more important to confront broader strategic challenges that we face, and we are doing that," Panetta said.
The rule of law must be strengthened and the nations must work together "to reduce corruption and promote the quality of governance that will support these hard-won security gains," Panetta said.
"Together with the international community we must promote sustainable economic development, education (and) healthcare to give the Afghan people the better future they deserve," Panetta said.