Saturday, October 24, 2009

3 SCOTS thwart Taliban to recover US Chinook

Soldiers from Alpha (Grenadier) Company of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), have fought off Taliban attackers in order to facilitate the recovery of a US Army Chinook helicopter.

When the helicopter of the US 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade suffered a hard landing on difficult ground in the Upper Sangin Valley, troops from 3 SCOTS were mobilised at short notice to secure the crash site.

A number of UK and Afghan troops had been on the troop-carrying aircraft but thankfully, although it was badly damaged, no-one was injured.

In a bid to secure the area, recover the airframe and to prevent it falling into Taliban hands, 120 men of Alpha (Grenadier) Company were flown to the desert site.

However, as a specialist US recovery team set to work to prepare the Chinook for extraction, insurgents began to mass.

Air cover was called in and devastating strikes by US attack helicopters and A-10 jets killed and injured several insurgents; one badly injured insurgent was subsequently treated by 3 SCOTS' medics and evacuated by helicopter to an International Security Assistance Force medical facility.

This was sufficient to discourage the attackers and the rest of the day passed off without major incident.

With the crash site secured the helicopter was extracted just as the light began to fade; it was underslung beneath another helicopter and slowly lifted away to the safety of Kandahar Airfield.

An hour later the men of Alpha Company followed on and returned back to base.

Major Matt Munro, Officer Commanding Alpha (Grenadier) Company, said:

"I'm delighted that this operation went so well.

"Given that we have worked so closely with the American aviators of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade throughout our seven-month tour I'm pleased that we were able to play an important part in the recovery of one of their airframes.

"It was a team effort that highlighted our high levels of preparedness and combat-readiness."

Major Neil Kugler, Operations Officer of Task Force (TF) Tallon, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, said:

"The troopers of TF Tallon and the Jocks of The Black Watch, 3 SCOTS Battle Group, developed a great professional relationship over the past four months during the conduct of numerous combat air assault operations.

"It was fitting that the final combat mission in Afghanistan for The Black Watch was to recover one of our damaged aircraft."

Lance Corporal Aaron Graham, aged 20 from Kirkcaldy, and a Section Second-in-Command in 1 Platoon, said:

"This was unlike any other job we have done out here. Once again we produced the goods and were pleased to keep the Taliban firmly on the back foot."

3 SCOTS have been based in Kandahar where they took over as the Regional Battle Group (South) in April 2009. They are now coming to the end of their deployment and returning to the UK in the next few weeks

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