By Brig. Gen. Larry D. Nicholson, USMC
Today, nearly 4,000 U.S. Marines and Sailors of Task Force Leatherneck, partnered with Afghan National Security Forces and supported by Task Force Pegasus, the Combat Aviation Brigade of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, conducted a near-simultaneous heliborne and surface insert into the central and southern Helmand River valley. These efforts, combined with closely coordinated UK and Danish operations to our immediate north, will dramatically change and positively impact the security of the Afghan people living in this long-held Taliban heartland.
Our focus is now and will remain the Afghan people. We have worked closely with local Helmand government officials and many tribal and local leaders in the detailed planning of this major offensive. While the initial focus will be on security, the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) working with Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Coalition Forces will rapidly move to introduce the initial essential aspects of governance and economic development into these newly secured areas. These efforts will be focused upon providing immediate assistance to the population, and in setting the conditions for successful elections in August. Today's operation is designed to separate and isolate the Taliban from the population who has long suffered the effects of their presence.
This large scale operation is not without risk to the many thousands of brave and dedicated Afghan and coalition troops participating. This operation is designed to boldly demonstrate to the Afghan people the determination and dedication of the Government and Coalition Forces in ridding the area of Taliban insurgents who prey upon the people. The Taliban offer no future, no hope, and we will work to provide immediate security gains to the local citizens of the Helmand River valley. What makes Operation Kanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced, the speed at which it will insert, and the fact that where we go, we will stay, and where we stay, we will hold, build, and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces.
Larry D. Nicholson
Commanding General, Task Force Leatherneck