GARMSIR DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan --
Spread out within a maze of concertina wire and concrete barriers at Garmsir’s district center, Afghan National Police members partnered with Marines from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment to provide security for the funeral of District Chief of Police Lt. Col. Sayfullah Khan Rashidi here, Nov. 13.
Sayfullah died after his vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device that detonated as he was traveling on a Garmsir road, Nov. 6. Two other ANP members were killed in the explosion, which occurred on the first day of the three-day Islamic festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha.
Following previous terms as chief of police in the Nawa and Gereshk districts, Sayfullah assumed his duties here, Sept. 15. His time spent in Garmsir was short, but his impact was felt throughout the district.
“For 60 years, Sayfullah was a professional and a hard worker,” interim District Chief of Police Maj. Naimatullah Azizi said. “After the prayer that began Eid, he told the officers he wanted to visit the ANP patrol bases as soon as we took command of them, to find out what the patrolmen there needed. This was the last thing he told us, but he didn’t get the chance to do it.”
Perched in the turrets of armored vehicles in the nearby bazaar, 3/3 Kilo Co. machine gunners vigilantly scanned streets surrounding the district center for suspicious activity. Members of the ANP halted and searched vehicles passing through nearby checkpoints to ensure local elders had the chance to properly mourn Sayfullah.
Inside the compound, local elders sat together with the commanding officers of the 1st and 3rd Battalions, 3rd Marine Regiment — Lt. Cols. Sean Riordan and Matthew J. Palma – to honor the fallen police chief.
“This was a cowardly act that amounts to nothing more than the murder of a good man who was respected by his police officers and coalition partners, but especially the people of Garmsir,” Palma, from Bristol, R.I., said. “He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. The legacy of the good work he did will endure beyond his brief moment as Garmsir’s chief of police.”
A mullah, or local religious leader, memorialized Sayfullah by reading verses of the Qu’ran and offering prayers in his name. The attendees offered condolences to his family members and shared a meal of bread, chicken, rice and fresh fruit.
Amidst the challenging circumstances, 25-year-old District Governor Mohammad Fahim said Garmsir’s stability remains unshaken by Sayfullah’s death.
“Lt. Col. Sayfullah was brave and it’s unfortunate we lost him, but we still have security and stability in Garmsir — this hasn’t changed,” Fahim said.
Editor’s note: 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghanistan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling the ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.