Wednesday, October 7, 2009
For some the thought of being ambushed, rocketed, shot at and trapped for hours in the fierce Afghan heat would be the stuff of nightmares.
But for soldiers of 19 Brigade's elite Reconnaissance Force (BRF) who recently experienced just such a scenario, being in the thick of it is what it's all about.
Under cover of darkness and using night vision, the patrol of more than one hundred men including Afghan National Forces and a Counter Improvised Explosive Device team (CIED) left Camp Bastion in 26 Jackals and two Mastiffs - one of their biggest deployments to date.
"The lads are always up for it, always ready to do their job in the most difficult of circumstances," said Captain Euan Grant the unit's Operations Officer.
"We've had a tough tour this year but despite that the lads know they've done a sterling job so far, really taking the fight to the insurgents. I'm sure this operation will be no different," he added.
Codenamed Operation Panther's Valour (or Operation SHEJAH PALANG in Pashtu), its aim was to engage with locals in the Luy Mandah Wadi area of Nad Ali as well as to support the Light Dragoons BG in the nearby town of Babaji.
With the highly successful conclusion of Operation Panther's Claw in late July, commanders also wanted to keep up the pressure on nearby insurgents and disrupt their activities.
The heavily armed and highly mobile BRF were ideal candidates for the job. Within minutes of reaching the objective area the BRF were soon engaged in heavy fighting with insurgents as they protected the CIED team's attempts to disarm a number of IEDs in the local bazaar.
With the help of Apache Helicopter gunships and US F16 fighters the BRF were able to call in fire support on to insurgent positions, sometimes less than 100 metres away from themselves. But it was while extracting the CIED teams from the area that the BRF showed why they've earned their formidable reputation.
On the convoy out the lead CIED Mastiff vehicle was struck by a massive IED. The huge explosion showered dust and wreckage across the convoy. For a moment everyone is in shock and there was an eerie silence as the dust billowed out and the grim realisation of what has happened sunk in.
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