Afghan and Australian forces maintain pressure on insurgents

Afghan and Aus­tralian forces con­tin­ue to dis­rupt insur­gent activ­i­ties in south­ern Afghanistan, as the sum­mer fight­ing sea­son approach­es.

Recent mis­sions have removed thou­sands of kilo­grams of drugs, impro­vised explo­sive devices, weapons caches, explo­sives and four insur­gent com­man­ders.

Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group Lieu­tenant Colonel J, whose name can­not be used for secu­ri­ty rea­sons, said force ele­ments found and destroyed 1800kg of pop­py seed, 340kg of opi­um, more than 4300kg of drug mak­ing chem­i­cals as well as a sig­nif­i­cant amount of drug mak­ing equip­ment.

“The Afghan street val­ue of drugs and drug mak­ing equip­ment destroyed was just over US$3 mil­lion which would have a val­ue of more than US$125 mil­lion,” Lieu­tenant Colonel J said.

“These recent mis­sions have degrad­ed the insur­gents’ abil­i­ty to fight Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces and the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF). The more nar­cotics oper­a­tions we destroy the more we reduce the insur­gents’ abil­i­ty to fight, which makes this area of Afghanistan safer for every­one.”

Lieu­tenant Colonel J said insur­gents fought hard to pro­tect their drug labs and a senior insur­gent com­man­der was killed.

“The senior insur­gent com­man­der was an expe­ri­enced impro­vised explo­sive device (IED) mak­er who also helped facil­i­tate the move­ment of sui­cide bombers through Afghanistan to con­duct attacks on Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces and ISAF per­son­nel.”

Dur­ing that mis­sion, one Aus­tralian sol­dier received minor wounds as a result of shrap­nel from small arms fire.

Lieu­tenant Colonel J said the sol­dier was treat­ed imme­di­ate­ly by mem­bers of the force ele­ment and did not require an aero-med­ical evac­u­a­tion. His fam­i­ly has been noti­fied, and he is recov­er­ing well in Tarin Kot.

In a sep­a­rate mis­sion, Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces killed an insur­gent com­man­der who was an impro­vised explo­sive device expert who had taught oth­er insur­gents how to make and emplace IEDs.

This fol­lows recent SOTG and ANSF part­nered oper­a­tions which also removed anoth­er two insur­gent com­man­ders from Uruz­gan Province. One com­man­der was a known bomb facil­i­ta­tor who led attacks against Afghan Police check­points.

The sec­ond com­man­der was believed to have been direct­ly involved in rock­et attacks on Mul­ti Nation­al Base – Tarin Kot.

Chief of Joint Oper­a­tions, Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Ash Pow­er, said Aus­tralian and Afghan forces had degrad­ed insur­gent lines of fund­ing and equip­ment over recent months, low­er­ing their morale and will­ing­ness to fight.

“Dis­rup­tion of insur­gent activ­i­ties, materiel and com­mand struc­tures allowed Aus­tralian forces oper­at­ing in Uruz­gan to con­cen­trate on men­tor­ing and the expan­sion of secu­ri­ty in the province.

“This secu­ri­ty expan­sion encour­ages the deliv­ery of gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment to the more remote areas of Uruz­gan,” Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Pow­er said.

“The Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group has had a num­ber of suc­cess­es while the Men­tor­ing Task Force con­tin­ues to enhance the Afghan Nation­al Army capa­bil­i­ty, demon­strat­ed by locat­ing impro­vised explo­sive devices and insur­gent caches dur­ing recent oper­a­tions.

“The com­ple­men­tary effects of these task forces’ suc­cess con­tin­ue to bring a more secure future to the peo­ple of Uruz­gan,” he said.

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