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Cablegate: Operation Moshtarak - Situational Update for February 13,

DE RUEHBUL #0554/01 0450852
R 140852Z FEB 10 ZDK




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) KABUL 543, (B) KABUL466, (C) KABUL 115, (D) 09 KABUL 4187

KABUL 00000554 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary. Following the blessing by President Karzai on the
evening of 12 February, the operations in Nad Ali (Operation
Moshtarak) started at 0200 on the morning of 13 February. Most of
the day's activity took place in the northern half of the district,
and although not yet secure, Marjah is quiet. Afghan officials have
shown active leadership throughout the planning and execution of all
political and military aspects of this operation. Helmand Governor
Mangal and many other provincial and district officials have been
extremely upbeat about the operations, and they look forward to the
ministerial visits and shuras that are scheduled to take place over
the coming days to further bolster good governance in Nad Ali
district. Following a security assessment by PRT Helmand security
staff, the civilian-led District Support Team (DST) for Nad
Ali/Marjah -- which includes both U.S. and U.K. civilian development
and stabilization personnel -- plans to move into the operational
areas within the coming days. End Summary.

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2. (SBU) This is a situational update for Operation Moshtarak from
PRT Lashkar Gah.

Political Update


3. (SBU) As of late February 13, across the province, Afghan
officials, including the Governor and Haji Zahir (the Deputy
District Governor for Nad Ali covering Marjah), were extremely
positive about Operation Moshtarak, with many believing that the
fighting is over. Local reports indicate various neighborhoods
throughout Marjah are celebrating in the streets over the positive
outcome thus far, including no major reports of civilian casualties.
In Showal, in northern Nad Ali, a shura was held for the first
time, with plans for a second in the near future.

4. (SBU) On Feburary 13, Regional Command - South (RC-S) Senior
Civilian Representative Frank Ruggiero and RC-S Commander Major
General Nick Carter (UK) met with Governor Mangal to discuss the
opening of the operations prior to the Governor's press conference.
MG Carter reported that the insertion was successful, with no battle
casualties or resistance from enemy forces. He continued that all
the troops, both ISAF and ANSF, understood their rules of engagement
as requested by President Karzai. Mangal said that he had heard
from Minister Jelani Popal, Director of the Independent Directorate
of Local Governance (IDLG), who was satisfied with the current level
of consultation going into this operation.

5. (SBU) Both civilian and military personnel at the Regimental
Combat Team (RCT) at Camp Dwyer briefed Zahir on the events for the
next few days, and he told the RCT that he was thoroughly impressed
with the significant level of detail that has gone into the
planning, particularly for his initial visit to the affected area
and the upcoming VIP visits over the next few days.


6. (SBU) Governor Mangal, who has exhibited strong leadership
throughout this operation, is fully prepared to receive the
ministerial delegation from Kabul, which is currently expected to
include Interior Minister Atmar and Defense Minister Wardak, for a
high level shura on February 14-16. Ministers will conduct a series
of meetings in and around the operational area and will possibly
participate in the District Development Plan (DDP) rollout for Nad
Ali planned for 16 February.


7. (SBU) Governor Mangal had a successful press conference the
morning of 13 February, which was picked up by international media
outlets. Additionally, he did interviews with Sky News, the BBC,
and CNN. Initial news reports following the insertion were very
positive, reflecting the degree of cooperation between the Afghans
and the international community, and the lack of casualties suffered
by civilians, ANSF and coalition forces. The New York Times
characterized the offensive as a "new war model" in its plan to
immediately insert Afghan governance and police following clearing

Forward Deployment of DST

8. (SBU) USAID and DOS personnel are pre-positioned with the Marine
Command and will deploy into Marjah when the Marines deem it safe.
In addition, a UK Civilian Security Assessment Team will deploy

KABUL 00000554 002 OF 002

shortly in order to facilitate deployment of UK personnel into
Marjah. Together, these U.S., UK and Marine units will form the
District Support Team (DST). The DST is already planning a
flag-raising ceremony and immediate support for Deputy District
Governor Haji Zahir.


8. (SBU) Civil Service Training - On 12 February, the Helmand Civil
Service Institute opened in Lashkar Gah and started its first
session of training for existing and soon-to-be civil servants for
Helmand province. This was a joint DFID/USAID effort in that DFID
was responsible for providing the equipment and refurbishment of the
building while USAID provided the trainers and curriculum. As the
PRT looks to assist the Nad Ali district government with the
establishment of effective governance in Marjah, this training falls
in line with the multi-national development plan for Operation

9. (SBU) DDP Rollout for Nad Ali - As it stands now, Governor Mangal
has agreed on the District Delivery Program Rollout for Nad Ali
District to take place on 16 February. We understand from our
British colleagues that this is a strategic communications event to
highlight the agreed plan to deploy Afghan governance to Marjah (and
improve it elsewhere in the rest of Nad Ali district) in the coming
weeks and months. The Governor will also host a Budget Conference,
during which participants plan to discuss and finalize the hard
numbers necessary for the full DDP rollout. (Note: USAID and the UK
Department for International Development (DFID) are preparing a
joint cable to fully explain the PRT thoughts on the DDP process.
End note.)


10. (SBU) The PRT has received reports that low-level fighters are
seeking to reintegrate, and this reintegration will likely be
informally done and take place at the local level. The PRT will
continue to track this situation with Task Forces Leatherneck and
Helmand and our civilian personnel at the RCT. Zahir and RCT
personnel discussed at length the plans and way forward across major
and minor level "reintegrees," but with the new military order
(FRAGO) from RC-S in place which directs that reintegrees be
transported to Lashkar Gah for review, RCT personnel will need to
review the current reintegration plan. A VTC is scheduled for 14
February to discuss where the process stands following review of the
FRAGO. The key question for discussion is what the process will be
for detainees who claim that they want to reintegrate, especially
those who are mid-level insurgents.

Internally Displaced Persons

11. (SBU) According to the Helmand Department of Refugees, 866
families have registered in Lashkar Gah at this point, with roughly
100 additional families being registered each day. However, only 35
families at this point have actually declared that they need
assistance and are not staying with family or friends, as the other
registrants are doing. (Note: Families must be registered with the
Department of Refugees and verified by the UN as being from Marjah
in order to qualify for the immediate emergency assistance. Once
determined to be from Marjah, ration cards are given to each family
in order to obtain tents, plastic sheets, food stuffs and other
supplies. End note.)

12. (SBU) Reports have surfaced that there are families escaping the
fighting and moving to the desert, with no supplies, but the numbers
cannot be verified. The Nad Ali shura in advance of the operation
strongly discouraged this kind of movement and continues to
encourage people to stay within the district. USAID and DFID remain
engaged with UNAMA and local Afghan leadership to continue
monitoring this situation closely.

13. (U) This cable was drafted by the U.S. civilian personnel based
in Helmand.

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