Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nawa District, Helmand Province Now Under Government Control

One of the districts that continues to change hands over time in Helmand province has . . . once again . . . been 'retaken' by Afghan security forces. Operation Maiwand Four conducted by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) - assisted by Marine advisors and coalition air support - cleared the Nawa district of enemy presence and expanded the security belt around the provincial capital (Lashkar Gah).

The district, located very close to the provincial capital has been under the control of the Taliban for the past nine months. The district center was captured by the Taliban in October 2016. To assist the Afghan security forces the Marines launched an expeditionary advising package or EAP. This EAP from the Marines' Task Force Southwest provided advisory, air, battle tracking, intelligence, and fires integration assistance.

Of course, the term 'district control' is a very vague term. From a government (and Resolute Support) viewpoint if an element of the ANP or ANA occupies the administrative center of the district (usually a small number of one-story buildings enclosed within a concrete wall) then the district is under government control. From the Taliban perspective, the district is controlled if the Taliban can roam freely day or night throughout the entire district (except for those four or five buildings where 30 ANP are hunkered down). Learn more about the different interpretations of district control in Afghanistan.


Speculative reports indicate that the ANDSF have already started the planning process for Operation Maiwand Five to take place in the summer of 2018 which will recapture the district center, clear the Nawa district center of enemy presence, and expand the security belt around the provincial capital (Lashkar Gah).

The early planning process has outlined future coordination with various Afghan government ministries for the future government occupation of Nawa district governmental buildings in 2018. Coalition air support is being coordinated to move Nawa district government officials by C-130 transport and then by helicopter from their Kabul villas to the district center for a press conference proclaiming victory and a return of Afghan governance to the troubled district. The district government representatives will then immediately return to Kabul for extended talks with senior officials of various Afghan ministries about establishing funding mechanisms that are not hampered by the 'red tape' associated with bureaucratic and restrictive regulations meant to diminish corruption.

The Afghan Government Media & Information Center (GMIC) has their 16 July 2018 press release already scripted and posted on their website. Essentially it will say that the Afghan governmental ministries will soon resume public services, open schools, and that the ANDSF will restore freedom of movement on the roads and the confidence of the Afghan people in their government and security forces.

Not to be outdone the PAO for Task Force Southwest has already crafted the press release for Operation Maiwand Five's successful outcome projected for mid-July 2018. He has posted it in his 'Continuity Book' for his replacements' replacement to utilize in mid-summer 2018. It will read sometime like this:
"We have seen some significant gains in leadership and maneuver from the Ministry of Interior forces, particularly the Afghan Border and National Police. The ability of the ANDSF to conduct cross-pillar operations of battalion-size and larger provides proof of the abilities of the ANDSF to defend their nation. Defeating the enemy in Nawa means defeating the enemy in Helmand." 

(Okay, a little satire there in the last five paragraphs, couldn't help myself).

Additional Reading:

"Marines aid Afghan forces in recapture of strategic district", Military Times, July 17, 2017.

"Afghan forces liberate district in central Helmand", Long War Journal, July 17, 2017.

"ANDSF retakes Nawa district center during operation Maiwand Four", DVIDS, July 17, 2017.

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