Monday, September 20, 2010

UK forces hand Sangin over to US

(courtesy MoD)

UK forces transfer responsibility for security in Sangin to US

September 20, 2010

ISAF has today announced that British forces in southern Afghanistan have handed responsibility for security in Sangin to US forces.

The transfer of authority, first announced by the Defence Secretary in July this year, is the last move in the current rebalancing of ISAF forces across Helmand. It follows an increase in ISAF and Afghan security forces in Helmand over recent months and will ensure an equal distribution of ISAF forces amongst the Afghan population living there.

Handing over Sangin will allow UK forces to focus their effort in central Helmand where they will continue to deliver effective counterinsurgency operations, working alongside the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Major Richard Forsyth, OC, C Company, 1 Scots says goodbye to the man he has advised for the past six months in Sangin, Captain Nadri, of the ANA’s 3/215 Brigade.

British forces have been in Sangin, a key economic and transport hub, since 2006. Alongside the ANSF, they have provided vital security for the local population on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan, enabling development and preventing the insurgency from using Sangin as a base from which to mount attacks across Helmand.

40 Commando Royal Marines, currently deployed with 4 Mechanised Brigade, have handed over to the US Marine Corps (USMC).

Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said:

“British forces have served in Sangin over the last four years and should be very proud of the achievements they have made in one of the most challenging areas of Afghanistan.

“The level of sacrifice has been high and we should never forget the many brave troops who have lost their lives in the pursuit of success in an international mission rooted firmly in our own national security in the UK.

“The handover of Sangin by UK forces represents sound military rationale and reflects the increase of both ISAF and Afghan forces across Helmand over the course of the past year. British troops will redeploy to central Helmand, in support of ISAF’s main effort, where they will continue to lead the fight against the insurgency and assist in building a stable and secure Afghanistan that can stand on its own two feet.”...(HelmandBlog here)

The Beeb, of course, has their analysis:

Pain and reflection for Sangin troops

Control was handed over from UK forces to the US Marine Corps at 0630 BST

"There've been really bad days, especially when one of our lads got killed. That was hard to carry on."

Those were the words of Marine James "Ned" Kelly, as he and his comrades prepared for one of their final patrols in the dangerous Sangin area in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province.

British troops have been fighting for five summers across Helmand. So far 337 have died - nearly a third of whom died here in Sangin.

Today Britain handed over control of Sangin to US forces. The occasion marked a time to reflect on what had been achieved, and also for some hard questions about sacrifices made.

Lt Col Paul James, the commander of the 40 Commando Royal Marines Battle-group in Sangin, insisted progress has been made and that the losses have not been in vain.

He said: "I won't say is it worth the loss of life because of course the loss of life is always extremely traumatic. I'll certainly say it's never been in vain. We recognise the job's not done, there's a long way to go. But actually it's certainly on the right course."

I joined British and US Marines as they prepared for one of their last joint patrols. Commanders were keen to show us what they have achieved; how Sangin has prospered and how much safer it has become. But for marines like James Kelly it remains a dangerous place to serve.

He said: "It's crazy, because you can have weeks when quiet and mellow, serene almost. But then it can switch so quickly to getting in contact with the enemy; two, three hour fire-fights. Sangin has lived up to its reputation, massively."...(BBC here)

Back in 2006, The Times gave insights into British efforts into one of the harshest areas of all Afghanistan:

... The Sunday Times has obtained detailed accounts by officers of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment of operations in Sangin. The accounts record the leading role played by A Company, which was based in the government district centre in Sangin, and of 1 Platoon in particular.

One of the platoon’s section leaders was Corporal Bryan Budd, the posthumous winner of the VC. It also included Private Peter McKinley who won a Military Cross. The platoon was commanded by Lieutenant Hugo Farmer who won a Distinguished Gallantry Cross, second only to the VC.

British servicemen deployed in southern Afghanistan during the summer have won more than 70 awards, including Budd’s VC, a George Cross, three Distinguished Gallantry Crosses, 11 Military Crosses and four Distinguished Flying Crosses....(Timesonline here)

The tone of this article is what we came to expect from the msm, and the 'reporter' conceded that he wasn't actually there (the MoD was keeping the media out of the area.) However, it does give a glimpse of what our British troops have faced, day in, day out for the last five years, and is worth the read.

For a sobering look at the cost the British have paid as part of their contribution to this GWOT, go here.

On a day when the
MoD announces that a member of the Queen's Royal Lancers and a soldier from the Royal Engineers, let us never forget that the price of freedom is high.

As another chapter closes for the British in Afghanistan, my gratitude to ALL our troops and their families.

No comments: