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4 SCOTS roar into LIONS FIST

July 13, 2011

As dawn broke over Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province, several Chinook helicopters landed in a small pocket of farmland. More than 60 soldiers from A Company, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS), sprinted from the back of the helicopters and moved into defensive positions. There were no insurgents waiting to greet them with gunfire – just a few farmers herding their goats and camels.

Cpl. A Silva, a medic with A Coy, 4 SCOTS, scans the edge of a field for insurgents before entering a compound. Photo: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

The pocket of farmland represented a key intersection for insurgents trying to smuggle drugs in and out of the area. It was also known as a location from which insurgents managed money, logistics and intelligence. An area that until last week had never seen International Security Assistance Force troops (ISAF) or Afghan security forces.

A Company’s mission was to disrupt insurgent activity in the area and to spread the message to locals that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) planned to take over responsibility for the area.

However, within minutes of moving into one of the first compounds, A Company had insurgent mortar shells falling within 100 metres of them. A sniper in reconnaissance platoon, A Company, 4 SCOTS, who for security reasons is referred to as “Jim,” was one of the first to return fire.

“We started getting indirect fire on the high ground, so we decided to back off. As we were moving through the dead ground, we saw some fighting age males on the roof of a compound. So I stopped, got my optics out and had a look. A guy turned around and he had a long-barrelled weapon. I took up a firing position. He was about 1200 meters away and I took him down with the first round.”

Soldiers with A Coy, 4 SCOTS, jump over a ditch filled with water in a small pocket of farmland during Operation ZMARAY SUK II. Photo: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

What followed was hours of manoeuvring and firing between the soldiers of A Company and insurgents. While wearing 20 kilos of body armour and carrying ammunition and packs filled with 7 litres of water per man, the soldiers moved from compound to compound while enduring temperatures up to 50 degrees.

Captain Ben James, the commander of the recce platoon said:

“It was definitely a hornets’ nest. It felt as if they were defending something. They were in an area that they didn’t want to give up.

Cpl Silva and Highlander Vinny Spiewack, both with A Coy 4 SCOTS, rest for a few moments inside of a compound in a small pocket of farmland. Photo: Crown copyright/MOD 2011

During the day-long, sporadic fighting, A Company suffered one wounded soldier. It’s believed up to 14 insurgents were killed.

Capt James from Nottingham says it was a successful operation:

“It was massively positive in that we landed right in the middle of their heartland and disrupted their chain of command. We struck a command and control node. We sowed the seeds of doubt in their mind as to where we going to come from next.

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