Afghan National Security Forces Renew Commitment to Stabilizing Logar Province

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CAMP MOREHEAD, Afghanistan – Nestled in the mountainous and rough terrain of eastern Afghanistan’s Logar province is the Charkh District. With an elevation of more than 6,900 feet above sea level, the district is known for its severe winters that cause villagers to be isolated for long periods. But according to Afghan officials, it’s quickly becoming a haven for the Taliban and other insurgents.

Afghan Brig. Gen. Dadon Lawang, 1st Commando Brigade commander, and U.S. Special Forces representatives recently attempted to reach out to village elders in the form of a shura at the Charkh District center to discuss overall relations and security concerns in the region.

Upon arrival to the area, the Afghan-led engagement team was greeted by district leadership, instead of the elders they were expecting. In fact, the area surrounding the district center was eerily quiet and had it not been for a few children playing and one adult villager, it would have seemed like a ghost town.

Engagement team officials said this was not the scene they expected to find, but one that made sense once the meeting was underway and they learned more about the security situation on the ground.

Despite the lack of elders, the meeting was productive and provided valuable information that could benefit the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s effort to stabilize this troubled district, and freeing local residents from Taliban oppression.

“Anything outside of the district center here is not safe,” said Gul Rashid, the Charkh Samar District governor. “People here are influenced by Taliban so the villagers don’t dare speak their minds—their lives are in danger if they do. So for now, any shuras with villagers would have to take place at a different location.”

Rashid explained various incidents that have occurred in the area and said attacks have occurred as close as 100 meters from the district center. He offered numerous examples of Taliban aggression and said the area was rapidly becoming a safe haven for insurgents.

“The terrain here is advantageous to the Taliban and the people live in fear, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way,” said the district governor. “With the right plan, we can drive the Taliban away from here.”

The governor said Afghan forces are essential to changing the security conditions in the district.

“We need more presence and security,” he said. “We need the Taliban to know that this is not their breeding ground. If we have shuras at locations where people can feel safe, and if people see an effort to crackdown on enemy activity, then we can help rid this area from Taliban influence.”

During the meeting, Lawang also gathered input and recommendations from Afghan national department of security officers and the area’s Afghan National Army platoon commander.

“This has been an eye-opener and with the information gathered we can now formulate plans to recover the area,” said Lawang. “No one should live in fear and we want the people to know that their plight is being taken seriously.”

In recent years, Logar province has been riddled with insurgent activity. While change isn’t likely to happen overnight; identifying troubled areas is the first step.

In addition to the ANA and other conventional forces, there are now ANA commandos and ANA special forces that are working to bring peace to this troubled province.

Responsibility continues to shift from coalition to Afghan forces and districts such as Charkh are identifying problems in hopes of being part of the solution.

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A U.S. Special Forces member interacts with a local child in the Charkh district located in Logar Province July 27. Afghan and U.S. forces frequently engage with villagers in the various areas they visit. (Not Released - Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Gloria Wilson)

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Afghan National Army Commandos and U.S. Special Forces travel through the Charkh district July 27. Charkh district is known for its mountains and rough terrain. (Not Released - Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Gloria Wilson)
 
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