DAYKUNDI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army, Air Force and
International Security Assistance Force personnel worked in a
cooperative effort to provide much-needed relief to the people of the
town of Nili in the Daykundi province, April 22 through May 22. Food and
supplies were delivered to the area which suffered hardships due to
their crops being decimated by a harsh winter. The humanitarian aid
mission, named Operation Big Lift, was an ANA 205th Corps organized,
planned and executed operation with ISAF assistance.
Airmen from the Kandahar Air Wing kicked off the mission when they flew
two MI-17 helicopters, April 22, to the 205th Corp’s Camp Hero in what
was to be a series of runs delivering a total of roughly 19,000 kg of
wheat, rice, tents, clothing, and tarps that was intended to help the
people of Daykundi survive through to the next season.
“This is a 100 percent Afghan planned and operated mission,” said Capt.
Ian Bertram, U.S. Army mentor. “Every week they are pulling off missions
that they plan and carry out themselves. This is the first one of this
nature that they have done in a couple of weeks.”
The 205th Corps overcame numerous mission complications, including
inclement weather and mechanical failures. A system of thunderstorms hit
the high altitudes of Nili on April 22, which resulted in the
postponement of aid runs. Subsequently, the following day the Afghan Air
Force flew in their MI-17’s and picked up two loads from the 205th Corps
without any support from ISAF.
“Despite these issues the 205th Corps did an excellent job in
prioritizing the supplies and insuring the most critical items arrived
in a logical order, maximizing their effect and minimizing the suffering
of the Daykundi people. Officers of the 205th Corps escorted the
supplies to Daykundi. The people of Daykundi expressed gratitude and
delight to the ANA and the Government of the Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan for eliminating their suffering.” said Master Sgt. Leslie
VanBelkum, Regional Command – South liaison officer to the ANA 205th
Corps and an Afghan Hand.
ISAF supported later runs by the use of civilian aircraft and CH-47
Chinooks. The final stores of the relief supply were delivered on 22
May, completing Operation Big Lift.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan – More than 100 members
of the Afghan National Security Force and the International Security
Assistance Force attended a 3rd Zone Afghan Border Police commander’s
conference, May 26.
The conference highlighted overall zone operations, personnel
issues, logistics and communications of the 3rd Zone ABP, which is the
main force at checkpoints along the border in southern Afghanistan.
“The security status and situation of Afghanistan is getting
better day by day,” said Afghan Brig. Gen. Tafseer Khan, commander of
the 3rd Zone ABP. “We are doing very well but there is way more ahead
and many things to take care of.”
Besides discussing logistical issues, Afghan leadership spoke
about their ambitions and future operations of the 3rd Zone ABP.
“Throughout our mid-term cycle we will be able to defeat
insurgents, Taliban and smugglers,” added Khan. “If not, at least we
will be able to reduce the number of their activities.”
The long-term goals and objectives of the 3rd Zone ABP include
the defeat of the Taliban, increasing the capabilities at border
checkpoints, and providing more training and education for all border
“To reach all of these goals and objectives, our staff needs to benefit
from this opportunity and become one team,” said Khan. “As a result of
all these developments, the 3rd Zone ABP will become a role model for
other regions and zones.”
Although the ANSF is spearheading border operations, Khan recognized his
goals wouldn’t be possible without the support from ISAF members who are
aiding in the country’s stabilization.
“All of these national and international interests will be achieved with
the help of ISAF,” said Khan, “so we can move forward and have the
ability to stand on our own feet.”
Australian Army Brig. Gen. Chris Field, deputy commander for force
development of Regional Command-South, spoke accolades about
accomplishments made by the local ABP.
“You are here on the border, and you are responsible for
stopping the insurgents trying to do harm on the people of Afghanistan,
and you do a very good job,” said Field. “It’s now the
professionalization of your forces which will continue to make things
The ABP’s strength, posture and vigilance are especially
important; their armed forces are the first show-of-force encountered
but anyone crossing the border into Afghanistan.
“You are the first line of defense for your country, and that is very
important,” said Col. Gary W. Johnston, commander of the 504th
Battlefield Surveillance Brigade . “Do not let the enemy take the
advantage in timing, or tone or tempo about this fight.”
The ABP are part of the larger Afghan National Police and fall under
control of the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs. The border police
are responsible for enforcing immigration and custom regulations along
the border and at the country’s international airports.
“The things you do here impact the police in Kandahar. It
impacts the ANA further inside your country,” added Johnston. “Thank you
for your leadership and thank you for bringing freedom to your country.”