Reprinted from US Forces- Afghanistan Facebook Page

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Afghan national flag was raised above Khan Neshin castle in the Rig District Centre July 8 for the first time, signalling the arrival of Afghan governance in the southern reaches of Helmand province.

Khan Neshin and the areas south of the Helmand River have never experienced the sustained presence of coalition forces or Afghan national security forces, until now, seven days after the beginning of Operation Khanjar.

"The number one question we get from the people is, ‘when are you leaving?’" said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commanding general of Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan. "The answer is we’re not leaving until the transition for security is made to the provincial government, to include the Afghan forces."

Afghans from the local populace came to Khan Neshin shortly after the flag was raised, where they heard statements from Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal and newly-appointed Rig District Governor Massoud Jan. Dozens of locals then gathered around a large courtyard within the district centre to sign up for voting in the upcoming national elections.

"Look at them," said Gen. Muhaidin, brigade commander, 3rd Afghan National Army Brigade, 205 Corps, gesturing toward the crowd. "Now they know that the government is here and they have security. [The Afghans] have hope, that’s why they’re here."



Afghan citizens and members of the Afghan National Army raise the Afghan national flag above Khan Neshin castle in the Rig District Centre July 8 for the first time. (International Security Assistance Force Photo)