Scots soldiers head into Insurgent territory in 5-day Op
Members of 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Afghan National Police have taken part in a five day operation in the Lashkar Gah area of Helmand.
Before sunrise, A Company 4 SCOTS and their ANP counterparts set off from their base at CP SAID ABDUL carrying everything they would need for the duration of the op – including kit, ammunition, water and food. Being truly self sufficient meant each soldier had to carry more than 60 kilos often in temperatures above 40 degrees.
It would be a tough few days but Major Neil Tomlin (35), the Officer Commanding A Company explains the reason behind the operation:
“The Loy Check region of Helmand hasn’t seen a great deal of ISAF presence and as a result has previously been identified as an area where insurgents have been able to move freely. At the moment, the insurgents are largely focused on the poppy harvest so we wanted to get into the Loy Check region to win the population over and disrupt the insurgents to deny them the opportunity to get into the area, helping to bring some form of security to the region.”
Despite the arid heat, much of the area around Loy Check is very green and lush. The soldiers found themselves not only having to walk along dusty tracks, but weave through tall grass and even wade through rivers. Along the way, the soldiers and police stopped to engage with the locals and find out more about the area.
Throughout the operation, the Jocks and Afghans held a number of shuras with locals to discuss concerns they may have about security or other issues affecting them:
Maj Tomlin said:
“The key thing about these shuras is that increasingly, it is not an ISAF face that leads them. It’s the ANP or ANA or in this case, a member of the district government who had come down from Lashkar Gah. That means the problems that are being highlighted and discussed are actually directed at those who are going to be here for the long term – as opposed to ISAF, who stay for 6 months at a time and will ultimately hand over security altogether.”
Among the kit that the soldiers carry is equipment that helps to identify possible IEDs that may be buried on roads, paths or in compounds. The Company also patrols with a dog who can be used to sniff out any suspicious items that may be lying in wait for the soldiers.
Private Charlotte Cook (21) is an Armoured Engineer Squadron dog handler currently serving with Theatre Military Working Dog Support Unit. She and her dog Molly, who is a 5 year old spaniel, were attached to 4 SCOTS for this operation.
“As you can imagine, Molly, like the rest of us, struggles with the heat but she’s a great dog and has been patrolling and searching a lot. The only problem with her on ops like this is she’s a bit of water baby and loves to have a swim. But when she’s cooled off, she’s ready to get on with the job. Everyone gets to know Molly and trusts her instinct. She’s a great dog.”
After five days of patrols, searches and shuras, A Company returned to their base in CP SAID ADULLAH to take stock of what they had learnt but more importantly to get a good wash and some well earned rest.
Further images from this Op can be found on our Flickr page or by clicking on any of the images above.