Combined Afghan and Australian force targets major insurgent cell
ADFMedia — June 16, 2010 — Afghan security troops and Australian Special Forces have conducted disruption operations in southern Afghanistan that successfully targeted Taliban networks in an insurgent stronghold in northern Kandahar province.
The large scale offensive against Taliban insurgents in the district of Shah Wali Kot, was part of ISAF's HAMKARI initiative, an ongoing civil-military activity aimed at bringing security, governance and economic opportunity to the people of Kandahar.
The five-day Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) and Special Operations Task Group operation involved heavy fighting against insurgents resulting in the deaths of a significant number of insurgents.
On day two, the large-scale contact lasted over thirteen hours. On arrival by helicopter, the combined force was immediately engaged by insurgents using small arms and machine gun fire. Over a four and a half hour period, the Taliban used concealed fighting positions and access to aqueducts and creek lines to bring sustained fire against the coalition force.
The combined force suffered two casualties from gunshot wounds; one Australian soldier was wounded in the arm while a partnered Afghan ANSF officer was struck in the side. While under fire from insurgents, both were rapidly aero medically evacuated to Tarin Kowt where they are recovering.
The Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East, Major General John Cantwell, said the combined force had dealt a major blow to the insurgent forces and their commanders and made a major and direct contribution to ISAF security operations focused on Kandahar province and its nearby districts.
"Through the Shah Wali Kot offensive, the combined coalition force has severely disrupted an important insurgent stronghold. They inflicted substantial losses on a determined and heavily armed enemy force," Major General Cantwell said.
The operation has also denied the insurgents a staging area from which to transit into Oruzgan province, which is expected to have a positive effect on security.
Commander of the Special Operations Task Group, Lieutenant Colonel P, said that it was the combined and synchronised effort between the ANSF, Australian Special Forces, and the U.S. Task Force helicopter detachment that led to the success of the Shah Wali Kot offensive.
After five days of operations, Australian Special Forces, in cooperation with their Afghan partner forces, succeeded in achieving all operational tasks that resulted in surviving insurgents departing the area.
The disruption of Taliban operations has now enabled the ANSF and Australian troops to meet with members of the local community to plan ways for the Government of Afghanistan to assist in preventing Taliban insurgents from returning.
The Commander of ISAF Regional Command South, Major General Nick Carter, spoke to the troops during a visit to the Special Operations Task Group in Tarin Kowt.
"The actions in Shah Wali Kot have made a significant contribution to ongoing operational activity in Kandahar by disrupting a key insurgent safe haven," Major General Carter said.
"Australian Commandos and Special Air Service troops of the SOTG are a great asset to Regional Command South and the ISAF Coalition -- the skill and courage they demonstrated in this action is most impressive and they are making an invaluable contribution to the campaign."
Lieutenant Colonel P said the local population of Shah Wali Kot was grateful to the Afghan and Australian forces for pushing out the insurgents who had occupied their villages and forced them to provide food and shelter.
"By removing the insurgents from where they were not welcome, we have strengthened the community's resolve to keep out the Taliban," Lieutenant Colonel P said.
A large number of weapons were recovered after the contact including assault rifles, heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers and several radio handsets.
One civilian Afghan man approached coalition forces after the contact and requested medical treatment for a wound to his hand. It is not clear how he was wounded. It is not a life-threatening wound. He is receiving treatment from the military hospital at Tarin Kowt.
There is more, with pictures, here.
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