Afghanistan — ANA lead Operation OMID SEY to clear roads in Gereshk

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of Oper­a­tion TOR SHEZADA in south­ern Nad ‘Ali, where ISAF forces cleared numer­ous IEDs from key routes and installed new check­points, the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces have led an almost iden­ti­cal oper­a­tion in cen­tral Hel­mand province.

An Afghan policeman searches for roadside bombs
An Afghan police­man search­es for road­side bombs
Source: Sarah Yuen, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) and Afghan Nation­al Police (ANP), work­ing togeth­er on a major oper­a­tion for the first time ever, found IEDs at the rate of one an hour at one point as they car­ried out the oper­a­tion in Helmand’s sec­ond largest town, Gereshk.

The aim of the oper­a­tion was also to dri­ve insur­gents out of the dense­ly pop­u­lat­ed area with the sup­port of ISAF troops and to build two new per­ma­nent police check­points to enhance secu­ri­ty for local peo­ple.

Afghan counter-IED teams were brought from as far afield as San­gin and Nad ‘Ali to search for road­side bombs which have been threat­en­ing the lives of civil­ians, sol­diers and police alike.

One day they found eight in eight hours. The next day they found sev­en­teen between dawn and dusk.

Most had been laid on a road along­side the canal lead­ing to an exist­ing police check­point which had been attacked repeat­ed­ly in recent months. The road was also the direct route to mar­ket for the locals. They hadn’t used it for months but were keen to see it reopened.

One Gereshk res­i­dent, Ali Mohammed, said:

“The road is com­plete­ly blocked by IEDs and we have to car­ry goods to mar­ket through the fields. I now have a real­ly bad back as a result. We can’t wait to be able to use it again.”

ISAF troops have attempt­ed to use it but at their per­il.

War­rant Offi­cer John War­ing, from 1st Bat­tal­ion The Mer­cian Reg­i­ment (Cheshire), said:

“My vehi­cle had an IED strike here. A size­able device buried under­neath the road. This device was believed to be a remote-con­trolled device specif­i­cal­ly designed to dis­able or destroy vehi­cles.”

The ANA Brigade Com­man­der for 3/215 Brigade, Colonel Sheerin Shah, said:

“Our mis­sion is to open this route, clear all the IEDs and help keep it secure so that local peo­ple can use it.”

This was the first time the ANA and ANP had col­lab­o­rat­ed on an oper­a­tion of this size.

Both the ANA and ANP pro­vid­ed counter-IED search teams, trained by ISAF forces, and com­mit­ted men and resources to pro­tect­ing the counter-IED mis­sion and the build­ing of the two new check­points along the canal.

The ANA built them for the ANP, with British Army Engi­neers offer­ing advice and sup­port.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Jang­baz of the ANA said:

“The ANA has equip­ment and this is the rea­son that we are build­ing check­points for the ANP with the sup­port of ISAF forces for the local nation­als.”

Lieu­tenant Colonel Char­lie Her­bert, the Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of 1st Bat­tal­ion The Roy­al Reg­i­ment of Scot­land, who also heads the Task Force Hel­mand Brigade Advi­so­ry Group, said the oper­a­tion had been a huge suc­cess:

“The ANA and ANP proved they can do any­thing that ISAF can do,” he said.

“The num­bers say it all. They had 600 troops on the ground and we had just 100 offer­ing sup­port and advice. They seized the task with both hands and ful­filled it well. It is a great mod­el for the future.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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