The Fight for Alasay Continues

by Joshua Foust on 5/3/2009

(JPEG Image, 2916x1940 pixels) - Scaled (29%)

TF Tiger, the French battalion in charge of security in Kapisa Province, has reported the construction of a new combat outpost in Alasay District. Their press release is below. I’m working on confirming it with some people there.

Combat Outpost Belda established in Alasay
By French army Maj. Patrick Simo
Task Force Tiger Public Affairs Office

KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan—The Afghan, French and American militaries recently established Combat Outpost Belda in the Alasay District here at the entrance of Skent and Spee valleys.

The establishment of this outpost is symbolic of the multi-national militaries working in Kapisa, as well as for the Afghan people, according to Task Force Tiger and Afghan National Army leaders because no previous military forces have ever controlled the area.

TF Tiger is proud of the outpost, because COP Belda is named in memory of a French Specialist with the 27th Alpine Mountain Battalion who died in combat on March 14.

Before recent operations, insurgents controlled the valley and denied any penetration to the east. However, for the people of Alasay, a permanent presence of an Afghan military base represents peace and security, according to TF Tiger leaders.

“We know insurgents are watching us work in this area,” said French TF Tiger Operations Officer Lt. Col. Paul Sanzey. “With our American and Afghan friends, we are determined not to let [the enemy] move freely in this valley.”

Weird—press reports at the time identified the fallen French soldier as a Corporal. The establishment of this new COP is important, since the Shpee Valley rarely if ever gets a Coalition presence, and it’s kind of a black hole as far as information goes. Establishing a permanent security presence there is important.

As far as other things happening, there’s also this Stars and Stripes report on the goings-on in Kapisa, with some surprisingly nuanced analysis of how these issues tend to get resolved:

The process seems to have worked. Alasay district elders asked for two days to convince enemy fighters to get out or turn over their weapons. More than 50 fighters sought reconciliation with the Afghan government, which was successfully negotiated over about a week. The former insurgents pledged allegiance to the government.

Afghan tribes tend to be less hierarchical than Arab tribes, and reconciliations are made individually instead of tribal leaders bringing over their fighters en masse. Consequently, the reconciled Afghan fighters are a far cry from the “Sons of Iraq” reconciliation movement that some American leaders are trying to duplicate here. But fighting has since died down, and coalition forces have had little contact with insurgents in recent operations.

“When you can conduct your operations without shooting any bullets, it’s a good criteria of success,” said Col. Nicolas Le Nen, the French commander.

Indeed it is. From the reports coming out of there, they seem to be building a decent rapport with the elders. It’s only been six weeks or so since the start of the offensive, so there’s plenty that can go wrong. But if they continue to pair concerted development work with a focus on denying territory to the HIG-Taliban mixture infecting the area, the French, Americans, and ANA stand a good chance of turning Kapisa into a success story.

In Alasay Valley, the Fight Continues
More Progress in Alasay

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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