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
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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.
Ministry of Defence, UK