By Mark Dowie
Commandos from an Angus-based Royal Marine unit have delivered a “significant blow” to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Their aim of “catching the enemy napping” worked as planned when they stormed a Taliban base in the mountains near Kajaki, in the north of Helmand province, killing the commander.
Backed by artillery and their fire-support group – heavy machineguns and grenade launchers mounted on Land Rovers – the troops made their move under cover of darkness.
After a fierce bombardment of the Taliban defences, the marines called in an air strike and two precision bombs destroyed the remaining Taliban bunkers and defensive positions.
Intelligence reports soon revealed that a local Taliban commander had been killed during the raid.
Afterwards, a member of the Victor Company, 45 Commando, said: “We left very early in the morning, with a bitter winter wind in our faces.
“We moved carefully and stealthily into our positions with the aim of catching the enemy napping. We knew we had done it when we reached our final RV (rendezvous point) in his backyard without detection.”
The marines, who are from RM Condor, near Arbroath, are on a six-month tour of duty in Helmand, patrolling the Upper Sangin Valley. Their tour is due to end in April.
Victor Company, trained in high-altitude, cold-weather warfare, is stationed at a remote operating base, Zeebrugge, 4,000ft up in the mountains and has the role of defending the Kajaki dam.
The dam is of critical importance to southern Afghanistan as it supplies power and water to most of the population of Helmand and Kandahar provinces. The Taliban base that was attacked was north of the dam.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris said the operation had been well planned and executed “with ruthless precision”. He added: “Defence of the Kajaki hydro-electric station is a task of strategic importance. The power it produces is vital to sustain the livelihoods of the Afghan people who live in Helmand and Kandahar.”
Victor Company operations officer Captain Paul Forrest said: “This is a significant blow to the Taliban which will disrupt their ability to co-ordinate future attacks in Kajaki. It should also send a powerful message to them that their roadside bombs and threats against the local community will not be tolerated.”