NAWA, Afghanistan -- Multiple elements of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces began a clearing operation in the Nawa district of Helmand Province Aug. 17, 2017.
In July, Afghan National Army 215th Corps, 505th Zone National Police and other ANDSF retook the Nawa district center from insurgents during Operation Mawiand Four, allowing for the establishment of Afghan governmental influence. When the enemy counterattacked, the forces commenced Operation Maiwand Five, which has focused on continuing to develop security in the area.
U.S. Marine advisors with Task Force Southwest have assisted their Afghan allies throughout the mission, providing battle-tracking and air support.
“Our partners had to conduct another operation to counter the attacks from the Taliban,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Roger Turner, the commanding general of Task Force Southwest. “They were able to isolate Nawa from the south and the west, and eventually they were able to clear that area between the defensive line and the district center.”
The local Afghan forces’ aim is to continue spreading the government’s influence from the city to surrounding areas.
“They’re very committed to providing peace and security to the population,” said Turner. “We saw the ANDSF moving through the district freely, being greeted by the locals, and we believe they’ve been able to push out these [other] groups that had been taking a pretty hard fight to the district.”
The integration of 215th Corps with local police played a pivotal role to making advances throughout the operation.
“The ability for the army and the police forces to work together to achieve a common goal and a set of objectives has been very promising,” said U.S. Marine Col. Matthew Grosz, the Task Force Southwest senior advisor to 215th Corps.
In the past, ANDSF maintained defensive positions while not engaging in offensive operations as often. The forces still place themselves strategically throughout key locations, but the advisors of Task Force Southwest are helping their counterparts bring the fight directly to the insurgents.
“Now, we’re not waiting for the enemy to attack us. Rather, we are trying our best with all of our resources, in coordination with U.S. Marines, to target the enemy in their strongholds. These activities have had some very good effects on overall security,” said Maj. Gen. Wali Mohammed Ahmadzai, the commanding general of 215th Corps.
As the mission in Nawa concludes, the U.S. and Afghan Forces will work to take the successes from Maiwand Five and carry them over to future operations throughout Helmand.
“This took about 10 days and some pretty hard fighting, but they were able to do it,” said Turner. “We’re making gains, we’re expanding security around the provincial capital, and building momentum over time… What we’re hoping to see going forward is that the security forces are able to consolidate control and that the Afghan government can start to push services… this has been a very successful operation.”