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Op OMID HAFT clears insurgents from Loy Mandeh area of Afghanistan

June 1, 2011

British forces from all three Services have supported hundreds of Afghan soldiers in carrying out a major operation to clear insurgents from one of their last remaining strongholds in central Helmand.

1 Rifles Conducting a Helicopter Assault Force (HAF) Operation into the town of Alikosi in Helmand province. Photo: PO(Phot) Hamish Burke. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

Operation OMID HAFT was planned and executed by the Afghan National Army (ANA), partnered by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops, and has seen them battle in harsh and hostile terrain where the enemy have intimidated and threatened the Afghan population for many years.

During the operation, Lieutenant Oliver Richard Augustin and Marine Samuel Giles William Alexander MC, both from Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, lost their lives, but, despite their deaths, the fight to defeat the insurgent and help secure a stable future for the people of Afghanistan has continued.

Commander Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Ed Davis, said:

“OMID HAFT is the latest in a series of Afghan Army-led operations to remove the insurgent as an evil force in the daily lives of the people of Nahr-e Saraj. For several weeks now, the combined Afghan and ISAF force has shown great courage and resolve in clearing one of the most dangerous areas in central Helmand.

“Much hard work remains to be done; however, as the operation draws to a close, the people of Nahr-e Saraj are one step closer to a life free from insurgents. I salute the supreme professionalism and unfailing bravery of the Afghan and ISAF heroes whose sacrifice has made this possible.”

British and Afghan Forces launch operation to push Insurgents out of Helmand stronghold. Photo: PO(Phot) Hamish Burke. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

The planning for OMID HAFT began several weeks ago. Since then, elements of Task Force Helmand built around 3 Commando Brigade have been working closely with the 6th Kandak (Battalion) of the Afghan Army’s 3/215 Brigade to co-ordinate an operation to rid the Kopak, Malgir and Loy Mandeh areas of Nahr-e Saraj of insurgent activity and extend the safe, protected community up to the Nahr-e Bughra canal.

Forty-eight hours before the operation began, and as the final plans were being put in place, Royal Marines from J Company, 42 Commando, alongside soldiers from the ANA, deployed onto the ground south of Loy Mandeh Kalay.

They were warmly received by locals, who are keen to rid the area of the insurgents that have forced them from their homes. The Royal Marines’ aim was to create a diversion, drawing the enemy away from Malgir – the main focus of the operation.

In the early hours of 26 May, nearly 300 ANA soldiers and Riflemen from 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) took part in one of the largest partnered air assaults in Afghanistan since operations began.

Captain Chris Ball of the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords ) sends out his patrol report prior to heading out into a local village with members of the Afghan National Army (ANA). Photo: Sgt Ali Baskerville RLC. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

To read the full report of Op OMID HAFT lcick HERE, or on any of the images above.

A series of images and further stories relating to this major operation will be appearing on this website over the coming days.

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