The violence has not gone away in Lashkar Gah – on Sunday 11 Afghan policemen were killed in a suicide attack – but British military commanders in the city believe despite setbacks real progress has been made.It really depends on one's "metrics"--what counts as progress and stability. Violence? Still happening. But if the people are relying on the police, that is huge, given how their starting point and how basic that component of the "rule of law" and security sector is.
In six years Lashkar Gah has gone from being Afghanistan’s most violent city to its second wealthiest and thousands are flocking in from the countryside. The real change is Afghans now run Lashkar Gah’s security and international forces have not been called in for a year.
Police corruption is still a concern but not as widespread. The public are now said to be doing what was once unthinkable and reporting crime to the police, a sign that the city may be getting more stable.
I cannot help but be skeptical since the British military has had a record of being overly positive about Helmand even as things were pretty horrible, not unlike some of the other militaries (Canada) operating in Southern Afghanistan. It has been only a few weeks, and the bigger news has been the series of assassinations of Karzai appointees.
I have ponder transition a bit further in a forthcoming column at Current Intelligence.