Brigadier Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, commanding general, Regional Command (Southwest), and Marine Expeditionary Brigade – Afghanistan staff visited with Afghan National Army officials of the 4th Brigade, 215th Corps, aboard Forward Operating Base Delaram, Nimroz province, Afghanistan, March 4, 2014.
During the visit, Brig. Gen. Yoo, MEB-A staff, Marines with Security Force Assistance Advisor Team 4-215, Afghan officials as well as Nimroz provincial security officers, held a shura to discuss the upcoming presidential election and security measures being emplaced to ensure the local people are kept safe.
“The importance of the shura was to introduce RC(SW) leadership to the Nimroz provincial and police leaders and discuss election security planning efforts in Nimroz province,” said Col. Morgan G. Mann, Director Security Force Assistance, RC(SW). “Election security is a critical requirement to ensure a free and transparent election process. Regional Command (Southwest) focuses its efforts on security force assistance. As a result, through our advisor teams, we seek to advise and assist our Afghan security partners to help them plan for successful election security efforts.”
This is the second election shura that has been held with Nimroz provincial government officials and leaders of the Afghan National Security Force pillars.
“This shura was very detailed about individual polling stations and actions the ANSF would take to secure those polling stations,” said Capt. Theodore Martin, operations advisor with 4-215 SFAAT. “The shura allowed the ANA, Afghan Uniformed Police, National Directorate of Security, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Operational Coordination Center-Provincial to coordinate their actions to support the government during the elections. Because no one element has enough forces to secure Nimroz province, they all have to work together.”
The ANA’s 4th Brigade mission is to secure the roads to allow people and goods to move freely through their area of operation. One challenge they face is their manning levels. Between having soldiers on check points and rotating them out on leave and training, they fall short of the needed personnel to conduct operations in the area they are responsible for protecting.
“Overall they are doing a good job,” said Martin. “They are able to accomplish their mission on their own with no help required from the advisors except urgent medical evacuations. They are not perfect; occasionally the insurgents are able to place an improvised explosive device along a road or attack the ANA, but we evaluate them as capable of controlling their area of operation.”
Martin said the operation and medical sections have plans in place to stage the quick reaction force and ground medical evacuation assets to respond to a crisis. Afghan leaders have also been meeting with local elders throughout the area to inform them of the upcoming election process.
“The average solider is excited about the elections but apprehensive,” said Martin. “They are enthusiastic that Afghanistan is having elections and that they will be able to vote but expect an enemy reaction. The brigade staff has an overall positive view of the election. This area of operation is more secure than many areas in southern Afghanistan, but they expect that something will happen. They just don’t know what, yet they are confident in the ability of the ANA to fight the enemy.”
As the ANA increase their confidence in their abilities, it is through their constant drive to learn and train that they continue to improve their capabilities and understanding.
“We want to establish an understanding of current election security plans between the ANA, AUP and the provincial leadership,” said Mann. “We want to set further goals to conduct planning and rehearse election security, and then reinforce coordination and communication between the pillars of the ANSF.”
As the elections draw closer, the ANA work hard to stay focused on keeping the people of Nimroz province safe.
“The ultimate goal is a safe and fair election for the people of the province,” said Martin. “The goal of the shura and planning over the next few weeks is a joint plan to secure the polling sites and respond to any incidents with the closest quick reaction force. As advisors, we are very pleased with the brigade’s efforts for election planning. We believe that by the time of the national elections, the brigade will have a fully developed security plan that will keep this area fairly secure.”