Monday, July 31, 2006
Operation Mountain Thrust ends in Afghanistan as NATO takes over.
Operation Mountain Thrust, the US-led offensive in southern Afghanistan -- which has led to the killing of 600 to 700 Taliban and other opposition fighters - is being wound up overnight as control of the region is transferred from the Americans to NATO.
The US 10th Mountain Division and other forces carried out an effective attack against the jihadis on their home ground under unbelievable conditions in what was supposed to be impassable terrain.
This offensive, part of which involved landing fully loaded CH-47 heliocopters on top of a mountain , in hostile territory and in an area that was 60 miles away from the nearest ground forces, where no one had been for years was designed to outflank the mujahadeen and was carried out almost flawlessly.
Absolutely un-freaking-believable, and an amazing feat of arms by some amazing men.
The British commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, Lieutenant General David Richards, took over command of southern Afghanistan in stage three of NATO's expansion in the country, during a ceremony in Kandahar yesterday.
NATO will take over security in six Afghan provinces in the south of the country..a Taliban stronghold until the American led forces got through with it.
"NATO is here for the long term, for as long as the Government and people of Afghanistan require our assistance," Lieutenant General Richards said.
Until yesterday NATO had been in charge of security in the capital Kabul and the safer north and west of the country.
"Today's transfer of authority demonstrates to the Afghan people that there is a strong commitment on the part of the international community to further extend security into the southern region's provinces," said Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, the commander of the coalition forces.
"This is a seamless transfer of responsibility and authority from the US-led coalition to NATO-ISAF. Having NATO committed to Afghanistan's future is good for the Afghan people and the entire international community."
Lieutenant General Eikenberry will remain in charge of eastern Afghanistan until NATO takes over in the east in about a month.