Royal Irish Regiment Mounts its Largest Air Assault Since 1945
The 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) Battle Group has mounted the largest air assault operation in the history of the regiment since 1945, when soldiers from the regiment landed on the east bank of the Rhine during World War Two.
Op TORA ZHEMAY VI (Courageous Winter) took place at the end of February 2011 and involved the insertion of three companies by helicopter in one wave, followed by an ‘advance to contact’ to link up with a further three companies in containment positions to the west, north and east of the target area of Zaborabad in Helmand province.
The purpose of the operation was to demonstrate the power and might of ISAF and the Afghan Government through putting a joint Royal Irish and Afghan force into the heart of enemy territory.
Zaborabad was the target for the operation, where the aim was to disrupt and degrade the insurgents’ ability to attack into Sayedabad, which 1 R IRISH have spent five months fighting to secure:
“We had shed a lot of blood there,” Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir said in a report on the operation.
“So had the enemy; it turned out that the fighting in Zaborabad in the weeks preceding the air assault operation had achieved just the desired effect.
“Zaborabad had no permanent ISAF or Afghan security force presence and so the people were ambivalent towards us. If we were to stay there, they would come in behind us, but for the moment they hedged their bets, in fear of Taliban retribution. They needed confidence in us.”
Preparations for the operation started weeks ago:
“We went through the start of the planning process prior to my going on R&R [Rest & Recuperation],” Lt Col Weir explained.
“On my return, I fully expected that complications would conspire to make this hugely complex and ambitious plan come to nothing.
“I was wrong – on my return from the UK the operation was good to go, the aircraft were available and the weather looked good (enough).”
To read the full article about Op TORA ZHEMAY VI, click HERE or to view a Gallery of Images from OpTZ 6, click on the image above.