Sami Sadat, a young general heading the Army’s 215 Maiwand Corps in Helmand, is making efforts to bring reform to the security forces and to prepare for the fight against the Taliban as the warm-weather "fighting season" approaches.
Gen. Sadat, in an interview with TOLOnews, said Helmand is one of the main Taliban hubs where an al-Qaeda presence is seen, but added that his forces are fully prepared to face the militants if the peace efforts do not end in a reduction in violence.
Local officials said five out of 14 districts in Helmand, including Musa Qala, Baghran, Disho and Khanashin, are out of the government’s control.
The Taliban launched major offensives in eight other districts of Helmand, including the city of Lashkargah, five months ago, during which some territory fell to the militants, but the government has now deployed Gen. Sadat, one of the youngest generals, to the southern province to thwart the Taliban’s threat.
“We will retake the territories, but they have lost their key commanders and they will not get them back,” Gen. Sadat said. “Therefore, the situation is in our favor on the battlefield. We are moving in the right direction. The security forces' casualties have reduced significantly, even to zero, I can say. The Taliban casualties have increased.”
Sadat, 35, has studied in Poland, Germany and Britain and, along with military training, has also studied management and administration.
Gen. Sadat believes that Helmand has strategic importance from a military point of view both to the government and the Taliban. According to him, complex activities by drug networks, its borders with Iran and Pakistan and the presence of al-Qaeda are main challenges for Helmand and the south of the country.
“Al-Qaeda has established many training hubs for the Taliban in Helmand. In other words, the Taliban--al Qaeda cooperation has increased in Helmand over the last year,” he explained.
Meanwhile, some army officers said that corruption, weak management, delay in supplying army forces in remote areas are some of the main problems that have existed in the 215 Maiwand Corps for years.
“He (Sadat) has achieved progress in Helmand over the last two to three months of his appointment. He takes part in operations himself,” said Ezatullah Musazai, an army officer.
“So far, during his appointment, he has given a harsh response to the enemy and he will have more achievements going forward,” said Mohammad Yahya, an army officer.
Helmand has witnessed heavy clashes between the government forces and the Taliban over the last few months in which the security agencies have said that dozens of Taliban fighters, including their commanders, have been killed.