Posted by Debra Worley - email
AFGHANISTAN (WECT) - The Afghan flag was raised for the first time Wednesday, signaling the arrival of Afghan governance in the southern areas of Helmand Province.
According to Capt. Bill Pelletier, the official spokesperson for Afghanistan operations, those areas have never experienced the sustained presence of coalition forces or Afghan National Security Forces until now.
"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 in a statement. "The answer is we're not leaving until the transition for security is made to the provincial government, to include the Afghan forces."
Shortly after the flag was raised, the Helmand Governor and Rig District Governor spoke to Afghan residents. Then dozens of locals gathered around a large courtyard 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."