Afghan and British forces seize Taliban anti-tank weapon

A joint Afghan and British team recent­ly launched a pre-dawn raid on a Tal­iban com­pound, seiz­ing an anti-tank weapon which had been used to tar­get a British base.

The for­mi­da­ble 82mm recoil­less rifle cap­tured dur­ing the oper­a­tion [Pic­ture: Sergeant Wes Calder, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Sol­diers from the Queen’s Dra­goon Guards, known as the Welsh Cav­al­ry, joined forces with their Afghan coun­ter­parts to mount the oper­a­tion to strike at insur­gents who had been fir­ing at the head­quar­ters of 2nd Bat­tal­ion The Mer­cian Reg­i­ment (2 MERCIAN) in the Nahr‑e Saraj dis­trict of Hel­mand province. 

The oper­a­tion result­ed in the seizure of a stash of muni­tions and the 82mm recoil­less rifle, designed to smash through tank armour. 

Intel­li­gence reports received since the raid sug­gest that Tal­iban chiefs are furi­ous at the loss of the weapon. 

Sur­veil­lance assets run by 2 MERCIAN tracked the insur­gents using the gun to an aban­doned com­pound, where they hid the weapon before fleeing. 

Afghan sol­diers and British troops from the Brigade Recon­nais­sance Force (BRF) — led by the Queen’s Dra­goon Guards — then planned a light­ning assault to seize the weapon. 

Heli­copters car­ry­ing Afghan and British sol­diers land­ed at the site in the win­ter pre-dawn gloom and as the British team sealed the com­pound the Afghans led the break-in. 

The com­pound was quick­ly cleared, with the insur­gents hav­ing already aban­doned the area. The teams then set about search­ing for the anti-tank weapon. 

First though they dis­cov­ered a hid­den weapons cache which includ­ed rock­et-pro­pelled grenades, a det­o­na­tion cord, pres­sure plates and oth­er impro­vised explo­sive device com­po­nents, and sev­en grenade rounds. 

Already sat­is­fied with a sub­stan­tial weapons seizure, they then hit the jack­pot when they dis­cov­ered the 82mm recoil­less rifle and ammunition. 

Cap­tain Mike Gled­hill, from the Roy­al Engi­neers, said the entire oper­a­tion took less than an hour, with sub­se­quent intel­li­gence sug­gest­ing the insur­gents were shocked at the speed of the assault. He added: 

“This was one of the fastest oper­a­tions that we have ever done and we were in and out before they had time to react. 

“Deny­ing the Tal­iban the chance to tar­get our boys in the base was huge­ly sat­is­fy­ing and to get it done with no shots fired was even better. 

“Reports we have received since the oper­a­tion sug­gest that local insur­gent lead­ers are furi­ous at the loss of this weapon — and increas­ing­ly wor­ried about their pow­er­less­ness to resist these types of raids.” 

Major Justin Sten­house, Queen’s Dra­goon Guards, Offi­cer Com­mand­ing the BRF, said: 

“A lot of peo­ple were involved in the gen­er­a­tion of this oper­a­tion and we were just the tip of the spear. Hours of hard work and vig­i­lance from 2 MERCIAN paid off in a great result for ISAF and the Afghan forces, and a bad day for the Taliban.” 

The Brigade Recon­nais­sance Force is Task Force Helmand’s eyes and ears across the British area of operations. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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