British troops and Afghan commandos have conducted a daring dawn raid under fire to target a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) factory in Helmand province.
|Troops protect their eyes from the debris kicked up by a descending helicopter [Picture: Sergeant Wes Calder RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Ministry of Defence, UK
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Operation EAGLE’S SHADOW saw more than 90 soldiers from the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) fly in three helicopters to the suspected factory in northern Nahr‑e Saraj district.
The area had earlier been cordoned off by Scimitar Mk2 armoured vehicles equipped with 30mm cannons, and Warthog all-terrain troop carriers armed with .50-calibre heavy machine guns and 40mm grenade machine guns.
The vehicles, crewed by the Formation Reconnaissance Squadron, the BRF and the Warthog Group, helped to protect the landing sites as the helicopters swooped in.
Once on the ground, the soldiers came under harassing fire from insurgents as they moved in towards the compounds.
But the insurgents withdrew after two short fire fights, and, with a protective Apache attack helicopter now overhead, the soldiers moved on to the compound where local Afghans said insurgents had been manufacturing IEDs.
Troops found the building had been recently abandoned but discovered a captive patrolman from the Afghan Uniform Police (AUP) who told them the insurgents planned to execute him later that day.
As the soldiers moved out, they spotted suspicious activity at another compound close by, and when they searched the buildings they discovered 30kg of opium, an AK-47 sub-machine gun and large sums of money in different denominations.
The BRF consists of soldiers from 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, while the Warthog Group is manned by soldiers from the Queen’s Royal Hussars.
2nd Lieutenant Barnaby Smith, an intelligence officer from 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, said:
“This Afghan-led operation not only recovered a member of the AUP but disrupted the insurgents in their backyard, denying them the freedom of movement they have recently enjoyed in the area where they thought they were safe.”
Lieutenant Colonel Jasper de Quincey Adams, the Commanding Officer of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and in overall command of the operation, said:
“This was another classic example of the Afghan National Security Forces and the International Security Assistance Force working together to relentlessly pursue the insurgent throughout Helmand.
“All of the soldiers and airmen involved in the operation worked together to deliver a high-impact effect that demonstrates the reach of the Afghan Government. This will send out a clear message to our Afghan partners that we will continue to offer our support however dangerous or complex the mission.”
Ministry of Defence, UK