Ambushed SCOTS troops defeat Insurgent attackers
British soldiers working alongside Afghan Police to clear insurgents from a contested area in Helmand’s Lashkar Gah district have survived a well-organised attack to turn the tables on their assailants.
Soldiers from The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS), worked alongside their partners from the 2nd Kandak of the Afghan Uniformed Police to conduct the ‘advance to contact’ – an operation to engage enemy fighters in an area known as Shindac Mandah, north of Patrol Base Attal in Lashkar Gah district.
Troops from Delta Company of Canterbury-based 5 SCOTS have been in Helmand since September 2010, mentoring the Afghan police officers who are increasingly taking over security responsibilities in the area. They return home in April.
Their aim in this operation was to sweep away insurgent fighters operating in the area, and demonstrate to locals that the police and other institutions of governance in Helmand are now in control and have complete freedom of movement.
These aims were eminently achieved and, in addition, four insurgents were killed plus a further two key insurgent ringleaders in the community detained.
A combined force of more than 100 men from 5 SCOTS and the Afghan Police crossed the line of departure at 0630hrs and headed north toward an area known to be held by insurgents.
As they moved north the police interacted with the local people they met, stopping for cups of chai and discussing the forthcoming harvest and plans to open a new school. Such interaction between the Afghan Police and the people is vital in building up intelligence and gauging what soldiers call the ‘atmospherics’ – the feeling of an area which tells soldiers whether it’s safe or there is a threat.
As the force moved further north, these atmospherics began to change. Families were seen hurriedly leaving compounds and the fields were empty of workers. Then, at 0840hrs, the British soldiers and Afghan policemen were suddenly engaged from five separate firing points.
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