Afghanistan — 6 weapons caches recovered in five days

Aus­tralian Army sol­diers from the 1st Men­tor­ing Task Force (MTF1) and their Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) coun­ter­parts recov­ered 16 caches dur­ing five days of oper­a­tions from 09 to 14 May, bring­ing the total haul to 55 cache finds over the peri­od 1 to 15 May.

AK-47 rifle, ammunition and weapon magazine and bag of home made explosive manufactured from ammonium nitrate and aluminium.
AK-47 rifle, ammu­ni­tion and weapon mag­a­zine and bag of home made explo­sive man­u­fac­tured from ammo­ni­um nitrate and alu­mini­um.
Source: Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Defence
Click to enlarge

The five day haul includ­ed six AK-47 assault rifles, one .303 cal­i­bre rifle, one 60mm mor­tar tube, about 45 kilo­grams of explo­sive pow­der includ­ing ammo­ni­um nitrate, twen­ty rock­et pro­pelled grenades, thou­sands of rounds of assault rifle and machine gun ammu­ni­tion, a large quan­ti­ty of elec­tron­ic impro­vised explo­sive device com­po­nents includ­ing pres­sure plates, trig­ger sys­tems, det­o­na­tion cord, and bat­ter­ies, two mor­tar rounds, a set of binoc­u­lars, and two hand-held radios.

Dur­ing recent oper­a­tions, Afghan sol­diers and engi­neers are demon­strat­ing an ever increas­ing capa­bil­i­ty to con­duct these types of oper­a­tions by them­selves.

“Our sol­diers with their Afghan Nation­al Army part­ners are con­duct­ing dis­mount­ed secu­ri­ty patrols right in the heart of pop­u­lat­ed areas and that’s where we are hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant impact on insur­gent capa­bil­i­ty,” Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of MTF1, Lieu­tenant Colonel Jason Blain explained.

“We use mul­ti­ple lay­ers of secu­ri­ty in the Counter-Impro­vised Explo­sive Device cam­paign includ­ing explo­sive detec­tion dogs, com­bat engi­neers, elec­tron­ic pro­tec­tion mea­sures, and robust search pro­ce­dures that are prov­ing very effec­tive.

“Every cache we find makes it hard­er for the Tal­iban, and improves secu­ri­ty con­di­tions and devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for the peo­ple of Oruz­gan,” he said. Mean­time, the capa­bil­i­ty of the Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) to plan and con­duct oper­a­tions in Oruz­gan Province con­tin­ues to grow.

The MTF1 is the first Aus­tralian Defence Force rota­tion to pro­vide Oper­a­tional Men­tor and Liai­son Team (OMLT) sup­port to the ANA 4th Brigade Head­quar­ters.

Offi­cer Com­mand­ing the Brigade Head­quar­ters (Bde HQ) OMLT, Major Paul Manoel, said that part­nered men­tor­ing was deliv­er­ing crit­i­cal skills and devel­op­ing the ANA Brigade to take over secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions in Oruz­gan Province.

“Part­nered men­tor­ing is pay­ing div­i­dends – we are expe­ri­enc­ing real progress in ANA lead­er­ship at the Brigade Head­quar­ters thanks to the work of our men­tors and eager­ness of the ANA per­son­nel,” Major Manoel said.

“Each day the ANA are mov­ing clos­er to being in a posi­tion to assume respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions in Oruz­gan Province, how­ev­er there is still a way to go until they can suc­cess­ful­ly achieve this.”

Major Manoel said the MTF1 men­tors part­ner­ing ANA per­son­nel oper­ate in a chal­leng­ing, but reward­ing work envi­ron­ment where cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences are over­come on a dai­ly basis.

“The dif­fi­cul­ties faced when bridg­ing lan­guage bar­ri­ers are com­plex, so it’s all about break­ing through those bar­ri­ers to instil the guid­ing prin­ci­ples of mil­i­tary oper­a­tions.

“We see great work from Afghan sol­diers on part­nered, dis­mount­ed patrols across Oruz­gan and the use of artillery equip­ment due to the efforts of Aus­tralian men­tors. “We will con­tin­ue these efforts and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly work to enhance the skills and con­fi­dence of Afghan head­quar­ters and logis­tics staff to plan, con­duct and sus­tain these com­plex and dan­ger­ous oper­a­tions.”

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