Royal Marine operation a success in building bridges with Afghan community
When Royal Marines from M Company, 42 Commando, dropped out of the back of a helicopter in the early morning last week, they were ready for a fight.
Operation Zamrod Olai was aimed to further disrupt insurgents’ freedom of movement in an area where less than a month ago, the Royal Marines of J and L Company saw numerous firefights and suffered casualties.
However, what they found when they landed on the ground was very different. The Royal Marines, Royal Engineers and their Afghan partners were met with very little, if any resistance at all.
They searched several compounds for evidence of insurgent presence but turned up no concrete signs of enemy activity. Instead, the Marines and their Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) colleagues used the unexpected calm to meet with dozens of locals. Maj Parker said:
“The fact that my company wasn’t fired on and that the Afghan forces were able to spread the influence of the Afghan government, I would say this operation was a success.”
Working with Afghan troops to help improve people’s access to the central and provincial Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) has been a constant theme of M Company’s deployment since they arrived in Nad-e Ali (North) back in April.
The Royal Marines, alongside the ANA and ANP, provide security from a number of check points throughout their area of operations. The Afghan police and soldiers partnered with M Company conduct several patrols a day, both alongside the Marines and increasingly independently.
Corporal Andy Bain, from Somerset said:
“Obviously there is still insurgent activity in this area but the fact that we can show up with ninety blokes on any given morning tells the insurgents there that they can’t expect to do whatever they want and expect to get away with it.”
The situation that greets 42 Commando is not the same across the Nad-e Ali (North) area. On the same day that M Company conducted their operation, their colleagues in Lima Company operating just half a mile away were involved in a firefight with insurgents which lasted twenty minutes.
Maj Parker said it shows that there is still work to do in the area:
“I was actually trying to enjoy tea and a chat with a local elder while I could hear the automatic fire and helicopters in the background. But our meeting continued – they didn’t seem bothered.