Afghan forces are conducting increasingly complex and effective operations against insurgents.
Here, the 10th Special Operations Kandak, supported with armored vehicles from the 20th Afghan National Army Division, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Local Police, conclude a series of focused offensive operations in Kunduz province.
"It will be a very long winter for the Taliban,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Bunch to Pentagon reporters Dec. 12. Offensive operations continue against insurgents, especially in Helmand and Nangarhar provinces.
In Helmand province, following up on successes against the Taliban in Marjah, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces aggressively cleared pockets of insurgents to the north, east and west of Nad-e Ali. Afghan forces also conducted successful joint clearing operations in Gereshk. In northern Helmand, U.S. forces conducted strikes against Taliban support networks, including a narcotics facility strike near Kajaki, which is expected to further deny narcotic revenue to the Taliban. U.S. and Afghan strikes on Taliban revenue streams have denied more than $16 million in direct revenue to the insurgency.
Afghan Special Security Forces rescued five Afghans from a Taliban compound in Nahr-e Saraj district Jan. 1, the third high-profile rescue by a Commando unit in the past two months. Afghan Commandos have also conducted multiple raids on Taliban narcotics processing facilities, denying them illicit revenue as well as confiscating or destroying weapons and bomb-making materials that would have been used to kill or injure the Afghan people.
In Nangarhar province, clearing operations by the 201st Salab Corps found and neutralized more than 30 Improvised Explosive Devices as well as reducing the number of ISIS-K fighters. In southern Nangarhar, the 201st expanded what began as a small-scale clearing operation into a brigade-level operation that forced ISIS-K insurgents to retreat from the contested area. Throughout their operations, the ANA demonstrated their increased ability to synchronize air in support of maneuver operations. The ANA anticipate they will further expand control of the area during follow-on operations.
Ten Taliban fighters gave up the fight against the government of Afghanistan and surrendered their weapons at a recent ceremony in Herat. Deputy Governor of Herat, Mohaiyadub Noori, presided over the reconciliation ceremony, offering the former insurgents protection and help finding jobs. Asked why they chose reconciliation, one of the former insurgents said, "ANDSF are getting stronger now."
The successful operations are enabling the ANDSF to integrate a training cycle into their operations, which allows soldiers a chance to pause, take leave, and receive training before returning to the fight. The training cycle not only improves morale throughout the ANDSF, but it improves the soldier’s individual capability.
Coalition forces at TAAC-S also began training 2,000 newly arrived 205th Corps soldiers in December. The TAAC-S Army Training Team launched the first cycle of the Combined Arms Training Course, which focuses on specific standards of development for Afghan forces. More than 550 officers, non-commissioned officers, and junior soldiers are participating in the six-week course.
Planning efforts for 2018 campaign are well underway throughout Afghanistan, ensuring continued offensive pressure on the Taliban and ISIS-K as well as supporting planned parliamentary elections.
Afghan forces are planning offensive operations in Ghazni province, focusing on integration of air, ground, and special forces to ensure effective joint operations in areas with significant insurgent presence and influence.
In Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces, Train, Advise, Assist Command-South provided operational planning guidance and integrated coalition force enablers to ANDSF during clearing operations. As a result of those planning and enabling efforts, Afghan forces cleared multiple IEDs and rockets, and engaged multiple Taliban fighting positions with the use of their own D-30 howitzers.
Representatives from the Nangarhar Independent Election Committee as well as the seven provinces in the 202nd Afghan National Police Zone met with the ANA’s regional leaders and NATO advisors at Forward Operating Base Fenty Dec. 18 to assess and plan security for the scheduled elections.
"Afghans are leading this fight,” General John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander, said Jan. 1. "Afghans are not asking us to do their fighting for them, or for the international community. We stand with them.”