Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Aussie Gunners support Brits in Helmand
British troops are working with a variety of coalition partners in Helmand province, including Australian Gunners, who over the summer have been supporting 19 Light Brigade in the Upper Gereshk Valley.
The Gunners, from the 105th Medium Battery, 1st Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, have been based at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Armadillo supporting British and Danish ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops as well as Afghan National Security Forces.
The Aussie Gunners joined up with 19 Light Brigade in early April and in the first four months of their deployment the Australian Artillery troop engaged in 42 fire support missions and laid on numerous others, totalling 1,008 rounds fired in anger in support of Danish and British infantry units.
On a regular basis multi-national patrols were conducted to resight the field defences and ground dominating patrols by day and night were also sent out to deter and observe local support for the Taliban and identify depth firing positions used by the Taliban to engage the FOB from maximum range.
During the deployment the troop have also been involved in some large scale operations as well, including Operation PANTHER'S CLAW, designed to increase the ISAF area of influence.
For the Australian Gunners one incident in the operation stood out; a high value target was identified and engaged with high explosive rounds from the troop, 500lb (227kg) bombs from F-15 aicraft and 120mm rounds from Danish Leopard 2 tanks simultaneously.
The bombardment was then topped off when the troop fired a 60-round smoke screen to allow the tank troop to disengage from the contact.
On one occasion during their deployment, the FOB was subjected to small arms fire around the gun position from five different firing points as well as co-ordinated indirect fire (IDF). This fire included rocket-propelled grenades which detonated behind and within the walls of the FOB.
During the contact the troop received a counter-battery fire mission on the IDF point of origin given by the counter-IDF detachment. The IDF was silenced after 14 high explosive proximity rounds from the troop.
Another highlight of the tour for the Australians included the involvement in an incident which required the FOB to launch a hasty multi-national Quick Reaction Force (QRF), commanded by elements of the Aussie Troop, to assist a British Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team patrol under heavy accurate and sustained fire.
The QRF consisted of all elements from within the FOB and utilised Danish vehicles for transport and fire support.
According to the Australian Department of Defence, the deployment has been an extremely rewarding and humbling experience for the 'Diggers', as the Australian Gunners are colloquially known.