The North Atlantic Council, in consultation with non-NATO ISAF Troop Contributing Nations, has given final authorisation for the reorganisation of ISAF’s Regional Command South and the establishment of an additional Regional Command South-West.
A new Regional Command (South West), based in Helmand, will oversee Helmand and Nimruz provinces; while the existing Regional Command (South), headquartered in Kandahar, will continue to control ISAF forces in Kandahar, Daykundi, Uruzgan and Zabul Provinces.Note the bold. Nimruz and Daykundi are two provinces that were left without forces when NATO was running the show (it still is, but as we covered here often, Uncle Sam has taken back the keys in all but name). They were left empty because NATO could not generate the forces it needed to and tried to pretend that it could do more with less ... you know the rest. If this is new to you, click the Afghanistan tab below and read older posts. I am not sure we are expanding there yet - but I would bet at least Nimruz will.
The recent changes on the ground include a large increase in the number of ISAF troops in southern Afghanistan - up from 35,000 in October 2009 to over 50,000 by this summer - and a greater complexity in the conduct of operations, with major ongoing security efforts in Kandahar and central Helmand.The initial iteration had the USA just taking RC(S) ... but this plan is better. It also gives the USMC what they like - their own field of play.
The new command structure will also enable a better alignment with Afghan National Army units, with 205 Corps continuing to work with Regional Command (South) [RC(S)] and 215 Corps partnered with the new Regional Command (South West).
The decision to divide responsibility between the two headquarters will help provide the best focus of command support for ISAF forces across the region.
Regional Command (South West) will operate under a rotational command, agreed in principle to be shared between US and UK forces. The first commander will be Major General Richard Mills of the US Marine Corps (USMC).Bingo. See that? Nimruz. Not sure what level we are there at; but the fact it is even being mentioned says all you need to know. Right focus; right time. Look at the map. Look at GoogleEarth with roads on, you'll see it. Ponder.
As part of the new arrangements, command and control boundaries will change within Helmand Province.
Following the split, Task Force Helmand (TFH) will come under the command of the US Marine Corps' 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1 MEF), under Major General Mills. TFH will retain responsibility for central Helmand.
Major General Richard Mills, Commanding General of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), said:
"Regional Command (South West) will ensure that ISAF and Afghan forces in Helmand and Nimruz provinces achieve the objectives of Operation MOSHTARAK, which are intended to assert the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's presence in the region.
"Since taking command six weeks ago I have been hugely impressed by the momentum and achievements of RC(S) under General Carter.
"My predecessors in the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the British troops of Task Force Helmand have distinguished themselves in the service of the Afghan people. Real progress is being made. "This will be the first time that the USMC has led an ISAF Regional Command. The British officers in my coalition headquarters and Task Force Helmand bring invaluable experience and knowledge. We are partnered with ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] at all levels and conducting joint operations throughout Helmand Province.
Remember - especially since the decision was made in '07 to have USA take back the keys, we can win this. All we need is a bit of luck and a lot of Strategic Patience.