Colchester’s Paratroopers Help Bring Development In Chah-e Anjir


British forces are helping the once thriving Helmand town of Chah-e Anjir return to its former glory after years of conflict and neglect – not just by maintaining security but by injecting a practical boost into its economy.

In a visit to the town, British officers from Helmand’s Military Stabilisation Support Team (MSST), found that recently-launched projects aimed at restoring prosperity have been enthusiastically welcomed by local people and have already brought positive effects.

The economic drivers come alongside major security improvements in the town, in northern Nad-e Ali district, with the opening this week of a new police station.

Chah-e Anjir has a proud industrial history and was once home to the Helmand Canal Company, which employed thousands of people. But Taleban intimidation and other security problems took their toll on industry over the years, leading to deterioration and financial struggle for those left without work.

Amongst the projects under way is a motorcycle maintenance training programme for local men, a local business with a small workshop and forecourt. The MSST group and members of 3 PARA visited to find 15 employees enthusiastically working on customers’ bikes, struggling to keep up with demand.

Another project visited was a vocational training initiative focussed on sewing and making clothes, where a team of 20 women are employed. Again, demand is such that the operation is looking to train up new recruits and will soon require larger premises.

Not only do these enterprises employ local people directly but they also provide services to the area, generating a positive knock-on effect for other businesses.

Lieutenant David Donnelly, from 3 PARA, said: “Since 3 PARA arrived here in late summer, this town has been developing in many ways. It still has a long way to go before it is back to the prosperous high-point of its past, but things are definitely moving in the right direction and there is an optimistic air amongst its people.

“Bringing about a stable security situation is one thing, but what we’re seeing here in Chah-e Anjir is one step beyond that – a place where improved security has enabled real social and economic development to happen and where business and industry is getting back up on its feet. This is how the Taleban will be defeated in the long term.”

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