RAF Regiment leads operation against Taliban bomb-makers

Mem­bers of the RAF Reg­i­ment have found and destroyed a large cache of Tal­iban IED-mak­ing equip­ment in an oper­a­tion con­duct­ed along­side Afghan and US forces.

 -
Mem­bers of II Squadron RAF Reg­i­ment and the US Marine Corps board a US Osprey air­craft at Camp Bas­tion in Hel­mand province [Pic­ture: Cor­po­ral Andy Ben­son RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge
 -
Mem­bers of II Squadron RAF Reg­i­ment and the US Marine Corps exit a US Osprey air­craft dur­ing Oper­a­tion DISHATA PASHA [Pic­ture: Cor­po­ral Andy Ben­son RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Oper­a­tion DISHATA PASHA (Pash­tu for ‘back­foot’) was launched at dawn on Mon­day 6 Feb­ru­ary 2012, with RAF Reg­i­ment troops from II Squadron. The force also includ­ed war­riors from the Afghan Army’s 3rd Brigade of 215 Corps, and US Marines from II Marine Expe­di­tionary Force.

The troops deployed by US Osprey air­craft, with its unique tilt-rotor capa­bil­i­ty, and the oper­a­tion result­ed in the find­ing and destruc­tion of a sus­pect­ed insur­gent IED cache close to Bas­tion Air­field in Hel­mand province. They also acquired a wealth of intel­li­gence despite com­ing under fire sev­er­al times.

The oper­a­tion took place in the dashte (or desert) south of Bas­tion Air­field, whose pro­tec­tion is the task of II Squadron, oper­at­ing as part of 3 RAF Force Pro­tec­tion Wing.

The dashte is a sparse land­scape of rolling fields and scrub dot­ted with com­pounds and is increas­ing­ly being used as a har­bour­ing area by Tal­iban forces who have come under pres­sure else­where as a result of suc­cess­ful coali­tion oper­a­tions.

In this ‘bed-down’ loca­tion the insur­gents have min­gled with the local pop­u­la­tion, some of whom have Tal­iban sym­pa­thies, and their pres­ence has seen attempts to increase pop­py pro­duc­tion in the area to fund their sum­mer cam­paign.

Because of the sparse agri­cul­tur­al cov­er in the area dur­ing the win­ter, the insur­gents have based them­selves in com­pounds to fire on ISAF foot patrols. The string of IEDs that had been sown across approach­es to the area, togeth­er with their ’stand-off and shoot’ tac­tics, was meant to stop ISAF forces from get­ting near.

Squadron Leader Jules Weekes, Offi­cer Com­mand­ing II Squadron RAF Reg­i­ment, said:

“There is a cer­tain dynam­ic to Tal­iban activ­i­ties in this area. They oper­ate in small teams of five or six, trav­el­ling by motor­bike as their pre­ferred guer­ril­la tac­tic. Part of this oper­a­tion is to find out how ‘he’ does busi­ness.”

Sev­er­al sus­pect com­pounds were tar­get­ed by the oper­a­tion which saw the Ospreys land troops at two sep­a­rate land­ing zones, either side of the wide Chah‑e Anjir wadi.

The dis­mount­ed troops — sup­port­ed by a num­ber of II Squadron Ridg­back and Jack­al armoured patrol vehi­cles and a spe­cial­ist US Marine IED-clear­ance team — did not go unchal­lenged.

A num­ber of small arms attacks were beat­en off by the ground troops and heav­ier attacks were dealt with by Apache and Cobra gun­ships. One US Marines patrol, tem­porar­i­ly pinned down by heavy small arms fire, was sup­port­ed by a show of force from an F‑18 which was suf­fi­cient to deter the insur­gents.

As well as gain­ing vital intel­li­gence the oper­a­tion found a sub­stan­tial IED cache in a com­pound, which con­tained a vari­ety of bomb-mak­ing equip­ment, mines and sev­er­al com­plete IEDs which were ready to be used against ISAF forces.

Wing Com­man­der Jason Sut­ton, the Com­man­der of 3 RAF Force Pro­tec­tion Wing, said:

“The open approach­es to this area mean that it is hard to gain the ele­ment of sur­prise. How­ev­er, by using the Ospreys to approach rapid­ly from an unex­pect­ed direc­tion, the oper­a­tion man­aged to achieve it.

“The RAF Regiment’s role is to defend air bases and those who oper­ate from them, but the old adage of attack being the best form of defence remains as true today as ever. Tar­get­ing the insur­gents and their sup­ply net­works takes the ini­tia­tive away from them so that we can dic­tate the terms of the fight.

“It dis­rupts the insur­gents’ attempts to attack Bas­tion and its vital air oper­a­tions, denies them free­dom of move­ment, and sup­ports the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces as togeth­er we work to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion who live around the base.”

II Sqn RAF Reg­i­ment is a para­chute-capa­ble RAF infantry unit, which fights on the ground to main­tain con­trol of the air, and spe­cialis­es in the pro­tec­tion of air bases and air oper­a­tions.

The RAF Reg­i­ment is ful­ly a part of the RAF and their organ­i­sa­tion, equip­ment and train­ing are designed specif­i­cal­ly for their tasks. The RAF Reg­i­ment, formed in 1942, is 70 years old this year and has been deployed on oper­a­tions con­tin­u­ous­ly through­out this time. The nick­name for RAF Reg­i­ment per­son­nel is ‘Rock Apes’.

The role of RAF Force Pro­tec­tion Wings is to pro­vide com­mand and con­trol of ground force pro­tec­tion at air bases in order to ensure air oper­a­tions can con­tin­ue unhin­dered.

The Wings typ­i­cal­ly pro­vide on-base secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions deliv­ered by the RAF Police, and off-base oper­a­tions deliv­ered by RAF Reg­i­ment squadrons, who oper­ate in the large ground defence areas around bases.

No 3 Wing pro­vides force pro­tec­tion for Bas­tion Air­field and Camp Bas­tion, work­ing in con­junc­tion with the US Marines who are tasked with pro­tect­ing the adja­cent Camp Leath­er­neck.

As well as hav­ing under its com­mand II Squadron RAF Reg­i­ment and No 2 (Tac­ti­cal) RAF Police Squadron, 3 Wing also includes an attached Roy­al Artillery ele­ment and a detach­ment of Ton­gan Defence Force per­son­nel, who work with the RAF Police to pro­vide perime­ter and entry point secu­ri­ty, and on oth­er oper­a­tions at Bas­tion Air­field and Camp Bas­tion.

3rd Brigade, 215 Corps, of the Afghan Nation­al Army, is based at Camp Shorabak, adja­cent to Bas­tion, and is sup­port­ed by UK troops from Task Force Hel­mand and Bas­tion.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →