The Royal Regiment of Scots smash Taliban bombers stronghold

source: MOD News

Hundreds of soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), launched an ‘audacious’ night-time assault on an insurgent stronghold in Kandahar province, finding an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of weapons.

Almost 500 soldiers, including Afghan Warriors and Canadian IED (improvised explosive device) experts, swooped into Howz-e Madad in Zhari district in three waves of six Chinook helicopters in the early hours of Monday 14 September 2009.


[Picture: Sergeant Aubree Rundle, United States Army]

The masses of troops landed almost within touching distance of enemy positions, causing chaos and mayhem among the insurgents who were quickly engulfed by ISAF forces.

Supported by British, Canadian and American fast jets, attack helicopters and unmanned drones co-ordinated by experienced fire controllers from 40 Regiment Royal Artillery, the soldiers touched down in an area known to be one of the biggest insurgent strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

As dawn broke on the first day, Alpha (Grenadier) Company began to exploit the compounds that they had assaulted. They found an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of insurgent ammunition, 28kg of explosives, medical supplies, communications equipment and weaponry.

The finds included two motorbikes rigged as suicide bombs. Significantly, a grenade-launcher and recoilless rifle, both of which had been used effectively against coalition forces in the area for some months, were also recovered.

Meanwhile, Bravo Company had broken into three insurgent defensive lines to link with Alpha Company. They fought off insurgent counter-attacks to hold their ground. Corporal Jim Copeland said:

“The insurgent’s defences were extraordinary. The wadi was lined with dug-in bunkers with interconnecting trenches, rat-runs and tunnel systems.

“IEDs laced the ground to their front. To the rear, the buildings had carefully constructed sniper positions and nearby hides were found where they cached their weapons.”

Charlie (Fire Support) Company secured the Battle Group’s northern boundary, finding further IEDs, fighting back the insurgents, and, ultimately, securing a safe route and location for other elements of the Battle Group to extract to after the deep strike had been completed.

Operating in what was effectively the enemy’s front line, there were few, if any, local farmers; all the compounds had been long abandoned and prepared as firing positions by the Taliban.

Soldiers enter a room in a compound searching for narcotics and illegal weapons.

Soldiers enter a room in a compound searching for narcotics and illegal weapons.

[Picture: Corporal Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The insurgents were clearly aware of how important this northern flank was and launched an intensive attack on the company positions, which was repelled by a combination of machine gun fire and helicopter support.

Sadly one young soldier was seriously injured during the battle as he worked to clear the extraction route for his comrades from Alpha Company.

Over the next few days, the Battle Group manoeuvred in order to maintain the initiative. There were more finds of insurgent arms and explosives and a number of fire fights in which more insurgents were killed.

Now accompanied by a troop of Canadian tanks, the operation culminated in a Bravo Company break-in of the village of Kolk. Lance Corporal Scott Mackie was at the forefront of their insertion on foot:

“The insertion was gruelling and we moved only 500 metres in the first two hours. We spent most of the time up to our waists in mud and water as we moved through the wadi systems avoiding the dozens of IEDs laid to our flanks, designed to halt us in our tracks.”

During the final phase of the attack, insurgents were caught laying a further IED screen and were quickly engaged by an attack helicopter. The break-in and search, in the face of further enemy counter-attacks, provided key intelligence for further operations in the area.

Private Ponipate Boa observes through the scope of his sniper rifle.

Private Ponipate Boa observes through the scope of his sniper rifle.

[Picture: Corporal Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

Major Matt Munro, Officer Commanding Alpha (Grenadier) Company, described the operation as an ‘unqualified success’:

“The plan was an audacious one; we assaulted from helicopters literally into the insurgents’ backyard. We destroyed a number of enemy fighters and denied them their arms and equipment. Our actions will have a substantive impact on the insurgency in this part of southern Afghanistan.”

Now, just think how many more of these kinds of successes we could be having – if we had more helicopters over there…

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