Never A Backwards Step
Capt Simon Vannerley, 2IC A Company
22nd September 2011
Wk ending17th September 2011... The latest A Company operation to ensure that we continue to take the fight to the enemy is called KAPCHA AFSANA 28 and at the time of writing, is still ongoing. The plan was to establish a Temporary Check Point (TCP) in the far south of our area down near the River Helmand. The TCP was named MARABOUT after one of the Regiment’s battle honours and from it patrolled two ISAF multiples.
Their mission was to disrupt the enemy operating in our southern green zone whilst conducting mapping of the local human terrain in an effort to increase our awareness and understanding of an area that we seldom go to.
This belt of southern green zone allows the insurgent to move freely around using the thick treelines and high corn fields to disguise his movements. It is also in this area that he has a number of weapon hides and meeting places. It was these very locations that the two patrols would be looking to find and search whilst on this mini surge operation.
As expected, our presence in this area would be contested and as we patrolled down to TCP MARABOUT we came under intense enemy fire from a number of firing positions. As the battle raged as the enemy tried his damnedest to defend his rear area, the ISAF multiples made significant use of the opportunity of the high corn to out-manoeuvre him. When we popped out on one of his exposed flanks he began to think that his only withdrawal route was being cut off. It was our new arrival in the Company, CSjt French, that led this assault and what an exciting first few days he had with the A Company. Over the next few nights he was at the forefront of the fight against the Taliban IED teams and found himself equally at home hosting shuras in the TCP with prominent local villagers.
The operation had additional support from an 8 man section lead by Capt Mark Salisbury who, as a veteran of many night-time helicopter insertions, deployed from the air in the early hours into an Afghan National Police Checkpoint (OP PANJAB), high up on the river cliffs above the River Helmand in order to provide observation and a vital battlefield commentary to those Rifleman in MARABOUT.
For the next two weeks, the two checkpoints worked hand-in-hand and had a dramatic effect of the insurgent infiltration across the river. They were no longer allowed to cross with impunity and as a result the patrols to the north saw a dramatic reduction in insurgent activity.
To keep the pressure up on the enemy, the troops that had remained back in Patrol Base 4 for the duration of the operation, quietly biding their time were finally given their chance to enter the fray. An audacious Helicopter Assault Force (HAF), using three airframes dropped onto the enemy’s back door in the dead of night. First man off the tailgate of the lead helicopter was Rfn Pike. A recent father, he was hell bent on fighting for a more secure world for his first-born, as yet unseen son.
The Company kept up this relentless pursuit of the insurgent for the next two weeks with some outstanding performances from some of the Rifleman in some pretty appalling condtions. Never a backwards step.