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Real progress we can be proud of
11:33am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Andover
“THE King’s Royal Hussars Battlegroup has enjoyed a good start to its tour of operations in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand.
“Lashkar Gah is the provincial capital of Helmand, a symbol of progress in the region, and governs land where improved security has allowed economic and political progress to gather momentum.
“It has not been an easy journey, but security has been provided through the concerted efforts of our predecessors and close relations, The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battlegroup, as well as previous British units over recent years.
“The strategy has been simple: to focus security forces in the main population areas, including the roads that connect them, and to develop the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces.
“The perseverance of both the Afghans and the British is now bearing fruit and the responsibility for leading security operations has been passed to our Afghan partners.
“We now act in support of them and, whilst it remains a joint effort, we are working hard to do ourselves out of a job and leave the counter-insurgency campaign in the capable hands of the Afghans.
“It is often difficult to describe or demonstrate the very real progress we are experiencing.
However, in the area of Babaji, on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, it has taken a form that is the model that should be repeated elsewhere.
“Babaji is a rural area of subsistence farmers living in small communities; life is hard. Until recently it was an area controlled by the Taliban, who littered their fields with the lethal and indiscriminate improvised explosive devices and exercised their own brand of ruthless intimidation and extortion over a population powerless to resist them.
“Following three years of determined work by the British Military, Babaji now has a functioning Afghan police force, local government officials, an asphalt road connecting the villages to the district centre, schools, a health clinic and a flourishing local market.
“So far so good, but what will make this endure is the fact that the population want the police and local government officials to succeed, they trust them and help them to provide security and economic growth.
“Last week an insurgent patrol attempted to ford the Helmand River and gain entry to Babaji, but they were repelled by a group of Babaji youths, who stood on the other bank yelling and waving them away with nothing more than their shirts.
“Insurgents need the support of the local population to operate and there was no support for them in Babaji.
“This is what progress looks like in Helmand and we thin out our combat troops with a clear conscience.
“There is still work to be done in Lashkar Gah, but we have sufficient time to achieve it and what has already been done is something we are quietly rather proud of.”