By French Army Maj. Patrick Simo
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 17, 2009 - The Afghan, French and American militaries conducted a medical operation here April 5 and 6, providing care to more than 600 Afghans from local villages. A joint civilian-military cooperation and provincial reconstruction team also met with students and teachers from two schools in the village to determine the community's needs. The teams distributed more than 500 school kits in Sultankhel, an area known for attacks on coalition troops.
Meanwhile, Afghan and U.S. servicemembers patrolled the bazaar and met with local vendors.
"The patrols with the French were fantastic," U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Davis said. "Once we entered the bazaar, the French moved very slow and tactically, clearing alleyways and shops one by one."
Following the community outreach, the teams held several community council meetings with local leaders in the Spee and Skan valleys to review the security situation in the eastern district.
The second-in-command of the Afghan National Army's 1st Kandak brigade and the head of the Afghan National Police met with the chief American embedded training team and a representative of French Task Force Tiger, discussing security concerns for more than six hours.
"There is a real desire to move forward and unite around the sub-governor in order to extend this quiet situation to the valley bottoms," one of the local elders from Alasay said.
The key to this mission was to talk, share and find solutions to solidify the still-fragile relationships in the valley, following a major offensive operation in March involving two companies of Task Force Tiger and two companies from the ANA's 1st Kandak.
Since December, the Kapisa combined tactical group increased security in its area of operations. The daily presence of Afghan and French soldiers in the valleys is particularly effective, Task Force Tiger leaders said.
"In this kind of counter-insurgency war, the people are truly the center of gravity of our operations," said Col. Nicolas Le Nen, French commander. "We are able to simultaneously conduct kinetic actions and support operations to the inhabitants of the valleys. Winning of the hearts and minds is crucial if we are to improve security, governance and development of the province."
(Maj. Patrick Simo of the French army serves with the Task Force Tiger public affairs office.)