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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