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Analysis

Reasons Behind Deployment of US, British Special Forces to Helmand, Afghanistan

Sunday 20 December 2015
Reasons Behind Deployment of US, British Special Forces to Helmand, Afghanistan

Alwaght - The Wall Street Journal in a recent issue (16 December 2015) wrote that United States and Britain have deployed at least four special operation teams in Helmand province, which directly attend in operations of the Afghan security forces against militants. Deployment of the US and British Special Forces in Helmand province came as the Afghan security forces in the province are fighting against the Taliban. Up to last year, Helmand province was the focus of the US and British military operations. It is reported that now four districts (governors) of this province are in the hands of the Taliban, and the Taliban is threatening the areas bordering Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

According to statistics of the Western officials which have recently reported the deteriorating security situation in Helmand province, at least two thousand Afghan security forces have been killed or wounded last year in Helmand province. Military officials in Afghanistan say, it is one of the priorities of Gen. John Campbell, the commander of the Resolute Support Mission of NATO in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from seizing the central Helmand.

At least three US Special teams (Alpha Units) and a British special operations teams were reportedly deployed in the province this year. A spokesman for the United States Special Operations Forces (SOF) has endorsed the deployment, but he refused to give the number of forces. But usually an Alpha Team includes a dozen forces.

He said that additional US Special Forces have been sent to Helmand to bolster the missions of training, counseling and assisting. However, four hundred and fifty British soldiers and the majority of the US naval forces have been killed in Helmand province.

One of the outstanding characteristics of this province has been its powerful unions and groups that are actively involved in joint drug trafficking, as 60 to 80 percent of Afghanistan's opium is grown in Helmand province. The British forces were in charge of the province's security, and from 2002 to early 2015, more than 9,500 British soldiers were present in the province. A large number of the British forces responsible for the security in the province, adopted the policy of appeasement with the Taliban in the region. Though the fight against the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs was assigned to the British forces, actually they did not reacted against cultivation and trafficking of poppy and even collaborated with the drug traffickers. According to multiple reports, a major part of drug trafficking has been conducted by the occupation aircrafts, including the British ones.

From the day Helmand province was established, especially after 2001, Helmand has been in the sphere of influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Due to the cultivation and production of drugs in Helmand province, it has been the most important financial resource of the Taliban and it is likely that part of the objectives of the US and British special forces, is to control and manage drug trafficking and the Taliban. It is perhaps necessary to point out the differences and the fact that the US and Britain are seriously competing in this province. A few years ago, the US suggested that the English forces go out of Helmand province and move to northern Afghanistan; however, the Britain disagreed.

Differences between the two countries were over some mineral resources such as uranium in Helmand and other issues such as disagreements over how they should interact with the Taliban. Americans believe that one of the main reasons for the persistence of the Taliban, was the policies of the Britain that in which under the pretext of reconciliation with the Taliban, they left Mosa Qaleh district of Helmand for the Taliban, and in the backstage made some deals with the Taliban. In 2006, disclosure of visits between the Taliban commanders and the British diplomats, Michael Semple and Marvin Patterson angered the US and the government of Afghanistan, to the extent that President Hamid Karzai immediately decided to expel them from the country, and refused to accept the British senior diplomat as a special envoy of the United Nations in Afghanistan affairs.

It was late November that Afghan Taliban allowed the government to re-open the schools in areas under its control. According to Abdul Mateen Jafar, director of Education department in Helmand province, the Taliban has recently sent a letter and has expressed its willingness to re-open 51 schools in Nad Ali and Marjah regions of Helmand province. This cooperation is rare in its kind, and is good news for the province, because there were bloody clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the province. Helmand is one of the largest provinces of Afghanistan, and in recent years despite the presence of tens of thousands of Afghan and NATO troops, it is still regarded a battlefield.

 

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