Award winning Gurkha back on the frontline in Helmand
A Gurkha soldier who received a Mention in Dispatches (MID) for bravely holding off an insurgent ambush on an Afghan National Police patrol two years ago, is now back in Helmand once again working alongside the ANP.
Corporal Tilak, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR) deployed to Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 for Operation HERRICK 10. As a member of the Police Mentoring Team, he fought alongside the Afghan patrolmen against insurgents in the Nad-e Ali district.
One May morning, Cpl Tilak’s team were moving along a canal in Chan Anjir when they were ambushed by 10 insurgents who emerged from a compound just 60 metres away.
Despite heavy incoming fire and accurate rounds pounding the patrol’s vehicles, Cpl Tilak held his nerve and position and returned fire with a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG).
For 15 minutes, he fought off the insurgents, suppressing their fire and attempted attack until they eventually gave up and fled. His actions that day earned him a MID.
Two years later, Cpl Tilak is back in Helmand and working as part of the Police Advisory Team based near Babaji in the Nahr-e Saraj (NES) district which is just to the east of Chan Anjir.
When he arrived in theatre in April, the AUP quickly recognised the famous ‘Cpl Chan Anjir’ who had helped them at their time of need.
The name has stuck and whenever Cpl Tilak visits the Checkpoints which have been handed over to AUP control, there are cheers from those inside who welcome him in and start sharing stories.
Two of the Afghan policemen who he worked alongside in 2009 have now been promoted and are in charge of patrolmen of their own.
Major Isreal is now the AUP commander in Precinct 4 in Lashkar Gah district and Lieutenant Mirza Khan is the commander at Patrol Base 4 in NES(S).
“I am extremely proud of Maj Isreal and Lt Mirza Khan who with their colleagues have achieved a great deal in the two years since I was last here. There has been so much progress and a lot has changed. They have much more respect from the people now who believe that they can do the job that we had to do in the past.”
Cpl Tilak uses his relationship with the Afghans to source items from local farmers and traders which the Gurkhas use for their traditional ‘messing’ including goats, chickens, spices, naan bread and vegetables.
The 31 year old, who is based in Brunei says he enjoys the company of the Afghans:
“It’s good to be back here to see old friends and I feel I can call them friends because we became close two years ago and continue to build relationships now. Some of the Gurkhas joke that I will retire in Helmand or become a commander in the AUP! That wouldn’t be fair though – the Afghans are doing a very good job here and they do not need me to do it.”
3rd Lt MIRZA KHAN from the AUP says:
“Chan-Anjir is my good friend, we fought alongside each other 2 summers ago; and I will never forget him on the machine gun. I’m very happy to see him back working with us.”
His Platoon Commander, Capt James Arney, said having Cpl Tilak in his team makes his job much easier:
“Tilak is an easy get-in with the AUP for me. If conversation is stagnant then I can call Tilak to enter the room; his presence immediately generates fun conversations with the AUP and gets them to open up to us.”