Afghan and Australian forces destroy biggest narcotics find – two Australian soldiers wounded

A highly successful Afghan National Security Force and Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) partnered operation in Helmand Province last weekend uncovered a narcotics laboratory housing enough ingredients to manufacture drugs worth around US $150 million.

The partnered forces descended on the facility in the Baghran District of Helmand Province, close to the border of Uruzgan Province, on Saturday and spent most of the weekend clearing the facility.

The Commanding Officer of the SOTG, Lieutenant Colonel G (who cannot be named for security reasons), said that it was the biggest find that Australian Special Forces had been involved in to date.

“The facility is reported to be one of the largest heroin-producing facilities destroyed in Afghanistan in the past five years, and profits from it were responsible for financing insurgent attacks against ISAF and Afghan forces,” Lieutenant Colonel G said.

Two SOTG members, an Afghan National Interdiction Unit officer and an Afghan interpreter were wounded when the partnered force came under attack from insurgents defending their narcotics operations on Saturday 17 September 2011.

“The four wounded men received immediate first aid at the scene,” Lieutenant Colonel G said.

“Three of the more seriously wounded, including one of the SOTG members, were aero-medically evacuated to a nearby medical facility,

“These three men were subsequently transferred to the Role 3 Medical Facility at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province where they are receiving specialist care.

“The second SOTG member, who sustained a superficial wound, stayed with the patrol to complete the mission,

“The Australian soldiers have both been assessed as being in a stable condition and their families have been notified of the incident.”

Lieutenant Colonel G said several weapons, ammunition and a large quantity of narcotics manufacturing equipment and chemicals were also seized and destroyed during the mission.

“This loss will be a massive blow to the revenue insurgents would have gained by manufacturing and selling narcotics,” Lieutenant Colonel G said.

“That amount of money not going into the insurgency campaign will no doubt have a significant effect on narcotics networks and insurgent activities in the Province.”

During the mission a number of insurgents were killed. A small group of insurgents were also detained and taken to Multi National Base – Tarin Kot for processing.

The number of soldiers classified Wounded in Action in Afghanistan this year is now 29, with a total of 194 soldiers having been wounded in Afghanistan since 2001.

Any Australian Defence Force member who is serving in war-like conditions and is hurt as a consequence of action against the enemy is classified as having been ‘wounded.‘

An ADF member hurt in an incident that has not been the result of enemy action in warlike conditions is classified as having been ‘injured.‘

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia

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