OEF Update, Feb. 14, 2010: Operation Moshtarak
Dispatches from the Front:
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2010 -- Operation Moshtarak, the Afghan-led initiative to assert government authority in the centre of Helmand province has completed its first day of "clearing" operations.
Saturday morning's air insertion over Central Helmand included helicopters, A-10s, Tornadoes and C-130 aircraft. The waves of aircraft-borne troop insertions of Afghan National Army, United States and United Kingdom soldiers were completed by 5:55 a.m. local time.
Since then, at least two shuras have been held with local Afghans - one in Nad-e Ali and one in Marjah. The ANA have been meeting with local Afghans and establishing themselves on the ground. Discussions with local Afghans have been assessed as good, and more shuras are anticipated in the coming days.
Early Saturday morning, Helmand Governor Mangal and Brig. Gen. Zazai, 205 Atal Corps commander, addressed the media during a press conference at the media center in Lashkar Gah.
Later that evening, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. World Food Program, the World Health Organization and local non-governmental organizations reported that there has been no increase in local Afghans leaving Nad-e Ali as a result of the operation.
A number of IED-making equipment and weapons caches have been found by ANSF and ISAF troops in both Nad-e Ali and Marjah.
The goal of Operation Moshtarak -- a Dari word for "together" -- is for the combined force (ANA, ANP, ISAF and the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team) to support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in asserting its authority in central Helmand, thereby demonstrating the Afghan government's commitment to the people living there.
The operation is being conducted in line with the wishes of the Afghan government in Helmand. The security forces involved are serving side-by-side, representing partnership in strength.
(From a NATO International Security Assistance Force news release.)