Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

British Afghan campaign 'on track'

Ex-Commander of Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Ed Davis, has said the British campaign in Afghanistan is on track to achieve its goals

The British campaign in Afghanistan is on track to achieve its aims by 2014, the former top military officer in the country has said.

Brigadier Ed Davis, commander of 3 Commando Brigade, which has just returned from a six-month tour, said the area of central Helmand had seen a 45% drop in insurgent attacks against ISAF and ANSF forces - around eight per week less.

And in some areas, that swelled to an 86% drop compared to the previous year, he said.

Brig Davis, who commanded Task Force Helmand, said they had "interdicted", or disrupted, 7.5 tonnes of homemade explosives, equating to about eight months of contact Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

"The campaign is on track, and the end sight of being able to hand over control of Helmand to an effective trusted and sustainable Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) is deliverable," he said.

"I think we have maintained the momentum and progress towards that, built upon the success of Herricks that went before us. I think we did maintain momentum across that summer, and the transition is on track of achieving our end sight by 2014."

Prime Minister David Cameron has set a deadline of 2014 for the withdrawal of all British fighting troops.

The number of British forces personnel of MoD civilians killed while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001 now stands at 383, after the death of Rifleman Vijay Rai, from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, who was killed at the weekend in Nahr-e Saraj.

Brig Davis said that throughout the six months they had detained 19 low-to-mid-level Taliban commanders, and killed 18. He said they had seen an increased appetite by Afghans to take control of the area - provincial capital Lashkar Gah was formally handed over on July 20.

But he said the threat had also shifted from rural areas to "something that was more cell-like and urban-focused".