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Cablegate: Operation Moshtarak - Situational Report for February 15,

VZCZCXRO4235
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #0582/01 0470931
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160931Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5621
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000582

DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MOPS PGOV EAID AF

SUBJECT: OPERATION MOSHTARAK - SITUATIONAL REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 15,
2010

REF: (A) KABUL 567, (B) KABUL 554, (C) KABUL 543, (D) KABUL 466,
(E) KABUL 115, (F) 09 KABUL 4187

1. (SBU) Summary. Operation Moshtarak continued on February 15 in
Nad Ali district; however, reports throughout the operational area
indicate that the situation was relatively quiet. ISAF Commander,
along with Ministers of Defense and Interior, visited the northern
Nad Ali area of Showal where they received briefings from ANA and
ANP Commanders as well as conducted a walk through the village to
meet with locals. In a successful press conference in Lashkar Gah,
the ministers called upon the Taliban to lay down their arms and to
rejoin their country. After receiving briefings at FOB Dwyer and a
meeting with Nad Ali Deputy District Governor, seven members of the
Marjah shura traveled to Marjah on the evening of February 15 to
work on establishing governance and reintegration efforts there.
Governor Mangal traveled to another area of Nad Ali to launch his
Governor's Led Eradication Campaign by deploying 20 tractors to the
district for the counter-narcotics fight. The numbers of internally
displaced persons (IDPs) remain steady at 941 families registered in
Lashkar Gah. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Operation Moshtarak continued on February 15 in Nad Ali
district; however, reports throughout the operational area indicate
that the situation was relatively quiet. The civilian component of
the operation stands ready and willing to go into Marjah once
conditions permit. This report is a situational update, reflecting
the activities that took place in conjunction with Operation
Moshtarak on February 15, 2010.

POLITICAL UPDATE
----------------

3. (SBU) ISAF Commander met with federal, provincial and district
leadership during his visit to Lashkar Gah and areas within the
conflict zone on February 15. In the north Nad Ali area of Showal,
Interior Minister Atmar, Defense Minister Wardak, Governor Mangal,
General Za Zai (205 Commander Hero Corps of the ANA) and COMISAF
were briefed by ANA and ANP commanders on the latest on the
operations within Showal. The ANA commanders noted that they
discovered approximately 45 IEDs on the first day of the operations
and praised the coordination taking place among the ANA, the ANP and
the ISAF. ANP Commander Colonel Tariq said that the resistance in
Showal lasted less than an hour and that most of the insurgents
escaped to the areas still unsecured to the northwest and northeast.
According to the ANSF leadership, the next mission was to pave the
way for the arrival of the police, as well as to clear the road of
IEDs so that the area's residents had freedom of movement to and
from Lashkar Gah.

4. (SBU) Following the briefing, the ministerial delegation,
including Commander of Regional Command-South (RC-S) and PRT Lashkar
Gah, accompanied by international press, conducted a walking tour of
Showal village. The UK Battle group based in Showal reported that
the community had held a number of shuras over the past few days and
the atmospherics of the area (such as women again in the streets)
were extremely good. Under a waving GIRoA flag where a Taliban flag
had been flying just days before, RC-S Commander spoke with a group
of local young men, who stressed to the Major General that, above
all, they needed the ANSF and ISAF to remain in the area to keep
them safe and not abandon them.

5. (SBU) In a February 15 briefing for Deputy Defense Minister
Bismullah Khan, Deputy Interior Minister Mangal and Commander of
ISAF Joint Command (COMIJC), Nad Ali District Governor Habibullah
explained his thoughts on how his district would develop following
Operation Moshtarak. Habibullah explained that in order for Nad Ali
to succeed, it would need greater support from the central
government for district governance, better command and control for
the ANP, and greater numbers of ANA. Following the briefing,
Bismullah Khan told Habibullah he would commend him highly to the
Minister of the Independent Directorate for Local Governance and
request every possible support be sent to Nad Ali to ensure GIRoA
continues to be successful. (Note: Early next week, Habibullah is
planning a shura of elders from across the District. End Note.)

6. (SBU) At the Regimental Combat Team (RCT) at FOB Dwyer, seven
Marjah elders from the 34 Marjah "executive committee" arrived and
met with Nad Ali Deputy District Governor Haji Zahir and various
civilian and military personnel in preparation for their visit to
Marjah that evening. (Note: Although not present at the RCT, the
Marjah shura is chaired by Abdul Rahman Jan (ARJ), former Helmand
Chief of Police, who remains highly interested in the governance
formation of Marjah. ARJ's nephew is also on the shura, and he made
the trip to Marjah. End Note.) The shura will stay in the area for
at least the next several days and may play a leading role if there
are Taliban coming forward to reintegrate. We will continue to work

KABUL 00000582 002 OF 002


with Haji Zahir, the sub-district governor for Marjah, as our
primary point of contact on governance issues there.

MEDIA UPDATES
-------------

7. (SBU) The February 15 COMISAF press conference at the Helmand
Governor's Media Centre received significant coverage from the local
press corps, with approximately thirty Kabul-based Afghan
journalists and reporters from the New York Times, the Wall Street
Journal, USA Today, the Financial Times and The Times (UK).
Minister of Defense Wardak called on insurgents to reconcile,
saying, "We are calling on all Afghan opposition groups - this is
your country, this is your soil... Without you, we cannot achieve
national unity." While Interior Minister Atmar put a lot of
emphasis on the civilian casualty issue, he said, "We may have lost
nine people, but we managed to liberate thousands of others."
Later, he gave an interview on CNN in which he attributed
responsibility for the casualties to "our forces," and made no
mention of ISAF or foreign forces with respect to the incident. He
added, "It's not just a military operation. It is an integrated
civilian, military and development operation."
COUNTER-NARCOTICS
-----------------

8. (SBU) On February 15 in the Grupi Shesh area of Nad Ali district,
Governor Mangal announced the beginning of the Governor's Led
Eradication (GLE) Campaign for Nad Ali. (Background: The UK-funded
GLE Campaign acts as the "stick" to the alternative livelihood
program's "carrot" for farmers when the poppy planting season comes
around in late summer/fall.) Accompanied by the Helmand Director of
Agriculture, other line ministers, and a number of Afghan media
outlets, Mangal deployed twenty eradication tractors, with
provincially-hired drivers, from his fleet of approximately 110
tractors to clear Nad Ali. In a statement to the media, Mangal
stated that poppy cultivation within Helmand would be reduced by 50
percent this year. (Note: The UN Office of Drug Control projects
that poppy cultivation levels to remain stable in Helmand this year.
End Note.)

IDP Update
-----------

9. (SBU) According to the Department of Refugees and Repatriation in
Lashkar Gah, the number of internally displaced families remains at
941 for February 15. According to unofficial reports, the
International Committee of the Red Cross in Marjah has seen the
return of some families back into the area and ISAF troops have
helped look after these returnees.

COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) The Marjah shura is a collection of elders who have
pledged their support to the operation and Governor Mangal. They
have shown initiative in working toward the future of Marjah and Nad
Ali district as a whole, but Mangal and many local residents
understand these elders place their interests first and this must be
kept in mind. Mangal and Atmar both stated that these men have an
immediate use but it remains unclear whether GIRoA will be strong
enough to have a lasting control over this body.

EIKENBERRY

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