Afghanistan/Australien — Combined Afghan and Australian force targets major insurgent cell

Afghan secu­ri­ty troops and Aus­tralian Spe­cial Forces have con­duct­ed dis­rup­tion oper­a­tions in south­ern Afghanistan that suc­cess­ful­ly tar­get­ed Tal­iban net­works in an insur­gent strong­hold in north­ern Kan­da­har province.

Shah Wali Kot Offensive
An Aus­tralian Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group sol­diers observ­ing the val­ley dur­ing the Shah Wali Kot Offen­sive.
Source: Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Defence
Click to enlarge

The large scale offen­sive against Tal­iban insur­gents in the dis­trict of Shah Wali Kot, was part of ISAF’s HAMKARI ini­tia­tive, an ongo­ing civ­il-mil­i­tary activ­i­ty aimed at bring­ing secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty to the peo­ple of Kan­da­har.

The five-day Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Force (ANSF) and Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group oper­a­tion involved heavy fight­ing against insur­gents result­ing in the deaths of a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of insur­gents.

On day two, the large-scale con­tact last­ed over thir­teen hours. On arrival by heli­copter, the com­bined force was imme­di­ate­ly engaged by insur­gents using small arms and machine gun fire.

Over a four and a half hour peri­od, the Tal­iban used con­cealed fight­ing posi­tions and access to aque­ducts and creek lines to bring sus­tained fire against the coali­tion force.

The com­bined force suf­fered two casu­al­ties from gun­shot wounds; one Aus­tralian sol­dier was wound­ed in the arm while a part­nered Afghan ANSF offi­cer was struck in the side. While under fire from insur­gents, both were rapid­ly aero med­ical­ly evac­u­at­ed to Tarin Kowt where they are recov­er­ing.

The Com­man­der of Aus­tralian Forces in the Mid­dle East, Major Gen­er­al John Cantwell, said the com­bined force had dealt a major blow to the insur­gent forces and their com­man­ders and made a major and direct con­tri­bu­tion to ISAF secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions focused on Kan­da­har province and its near­by dis­tricts.

“Through the Shah Wali Kot offen­sive, the com­bined coali­tion force has severe­ly dis­rupt­ed an impor­tant insur­gent strong­hold. They inflict­ed sub­stan­tial loss­es on a deter­mined and heav­i­ly armed ene­my force,” Major Gen­er­al Cantwell said.

The oper­a­tion has also denied the insur­gents a stag­ing area from which to tran­sit into Oruz­gan province, which is expect­ed to have a pos­i­tive effect on secu­ri­ty.

Com­man­der of the Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group, Lieu­tenant Colonel P, said that it was the com­bined and syn­chro­nised effort between the ANSF, Aus­tralian Spe­cial Forces, and the U.S. Task Force heli­copter detach­ment that led to the suc­cess of the Shah Wali Kot offen­sive.

After five days of oper­a­tions, Aus­tralian Spe­cial Forces, in coop­er­a­tion with their Afghan part­ner forces, suc­ceed­ed in achiev­ing all oper­a­tional tasks that result­ed in sur­viv­ing insur­gents depart­ing the area.

The dis­rup­tion of Tal­iban oper­a­tions has now enabled the ANSF and Aus­tralian troops to meet with mem­bers of the local com­mu­ni­ty to plan ways for the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan to assist in pre­vent­ing Tal­iban insur­gents from return­ing.

The Com­man­der of ISAF Region­al Com­mand South, Major Gen­er­al Nick Carter, spoke to the troops dur­ing a vis­it to the Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group in Tarin Kowt. “The actions in Shah Wali Kot have made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to ongo­ing oper­a­tional activ­i­ty in Kan­da­har by dis­rupt­ing a key insur­gent safe haven,” Major Gen­er­al Carter said. “Aus­tralian Com­man­dos and Spe­cial Air Ser­vice troops of the SOTG are a great asset to Region­al Com­mand South and the ISAF Coali­tion – the skill and courage they demon­strat­ed in this action is most impres­sive and they are mak­ing an invalu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the cam­paign.”

Lieu­tenant Colonel P said the local pop­u­la­tion of Shah Wali Kot was grate­ful to the Afghan and Aus­tralian forces for push­ing out the insur­gents who had occu­pied their vil­lages and forced them to pro­vide food and shel­ter.

“By remov­ing the insur­gents from where they were not wel­come, we have strength­ened the community’s resolve to keep out the Tal­iban,” Lieu­tenant Colonel P said. A large num­ber of weapons were recov­ered after the con­tact includ­ing assault rifles, heavy machine guns, rock­et pro­pelled grenade launch­ers and sev­er­al radio hand­sets.

One civil­ian Afghan man approached coali­tion forces after the con­tact and request­ed med­ical treat­ment for a wound to his hand. It is not clear how he was wound­ed. It is not a life-threat­en­ing wound. He is receiv­ing treat­ment from the mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal at Tarin Kowt.

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