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Cablegate: Helmand Update: New Governor Brings Improvements, Marines

VZCZCXRO2448
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1829/01 2030859
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210859Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4760
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001829

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER ECON AF
SUBJECT: HELMAND UPDATE: NEW GOVERNOR BRINGS IMPROVEMENTS, MARINES
ENGAGE TALIBAN

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Since his arrival in March 2008, Governor Gulab
Mangal has been a force for positive change in Helmand province.
Mangal is a capable bureaucrat and has an excellent grasp of the
political and security challenges facing Helmand. He is building a
competent administration, and is determined to bring government
closer to the people. The deployment of the 24th Marine
Expeditionary Unit (MEU) allowed the U.K.-led Task Force Helmand
(TFH) to conduct large clearing operations in central Helmand. The
Marines defeated enemy forces around Garmsir district and restored
government control. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) continue
to expand and improve their capabilities but lack sufficient numbers
to control all cleared areas across the province. Reconstruction
and development (R&D) work has expanded, and the Provincial
Reconstruction Team (PRT) and USAID regularly coordinate with the
Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) to improve
project implementation. End Summary.

Marines and Focused District
Development Improve Security
----------------------------
2. (SBU) Poor security remains the biggest problem in Helmand, but
the deployment of the 24th MEU and 2nd Battalion 7th Marines to
Regional Command South, mainly in Helmand, brought needed support to
TFH and the ANSF respectively. The 24th MEU, with approximately
2300 Marines, successfully cleared enemy forces from Garmsir
district, while the approximately 1300 Marines of the 2/7 are
mentoring the Afghan police in five districts. (NOTE: "Marine 2/7"
police mentoring efforts are being closely coordinated with the
Focused District Development (FDD) police development program led by
the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, as well as the
In-District Reform program that complements FDD.) TFH and the ANSF
conducted military operations around Gereshk, Sangin and Musa Qala
and disrupted enemy forces preparing for the spring offensive. The
Afghan National Army (ANA) is well received by Helmand residents and
continues to improve its capabilities. The ANA played a large role
in spring military operations, and can successfully backfill cleared
areas in Helmand if it receives sustained mentoring from TFH.

3. (SBU) The Afghan National Police (ANP) successfully supported
counter-narcotic efforts and disrupted multiple suicide attacks and
other criminal activities. The PRT has eight Police Mentoring Teams
working to improve the ANP's tactical, management and leadership
capabilities. General Andiwol, Helmand Chief of Police, is a
positive influence on the entire force, and his regular travel to
the districts has improved ANP performance and image.

Development: Improved Coordination
----------------------------------
4. (U) The PRT, USAID and the Afghan government improved their
coordination of development projects, and began numerous new
projects across the province. The town of Musa Qala received
significant investment for medical, education and government
buildings. Gereshk district saw expanded development activity from
both the government and the PRT. USAID's Alternative Development
Program operated effectively in the area around Lashkar Gah, and
with improved security can expand to other areas of Helmand.

Governance: Governor Mangal Takes Charge
----------------------------------------
5. (SBU) Governor Mangal became governor in March 2008 (he
previously served as Governor of Laghman and Paktika provinces) and
quickly established himself as the dominant political force in
Helmand. He immediately met with Helmand's political leadership,
and stressed that his administration would improve security, fight
corruption, bring government closer to the people and improve
service delivery. The PRT and the Afghan government provided
technical support staff to support him. The Provincial Development
Committee has met regularly, and the Provincial Council has
supported the Governor's outreach efforts. Mangal has improved the
image and operations of Helmand's provincial government; however, at
the district level, capacity is extremely weak and significant work
is needed to improve it.

6. (SBU) Comment: Governor Mangal's efforts to expand the capacity
of provincial and district governance is exactly what was needed to
complement the real military progress achieved by TFH, the ANSF and
the U.S. Marines. Mangal has managed Helmand's complicated
political strands to gain support for governance reform efforts, and
he has strong backing from the central government. Security remains

KABUL 00001829 002 OF 002


the greatest challenge to Helmand residents, but now residents have
a governor who can improve their physical safety and build real
support for the GIRoA in Helmand.

WOOD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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