Thursday, October 1, 2009
Hundreds of soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), launched an 'audacious' night-time assault on an insurgent stronghold in Kandahar province, finding an 'Aladdin's cave' of weapons.
Almost 500 soldiers, including Afghan Warriors and Canadian IED (improvised explosive device) experts, swooped into Howz-e Madad in Zhari district in three waves of six Chinook helicopters in the early hours of Monday 14 September 2009.
The masses of troops landed almost within touching distance of enemy positions, causing chaos and mayhem among the insurgents who were quickly engulfed by ISAF forces.
Supported by British, Canadian and American fast jets, attack helicopters and unmanned drones co-ordinated by experienced fire controllers from 40 Regiment Royal Artillery, the soldiers touched down in an area known to be one of the biggest insurgent strongholds in southern Afghanistan.
The insurgents opened fire, initiating a series of intense fire fights. Air support proved vital to the soldiers on the ground, as Private Kevin Murphy recalled:
"The weight of fire from the aircraft was staggering; it was like a fireworks show as heavy-calibre cannon and rockets ripped into the tree-lines around us as the insurgents tried to regroup; some of it was very close to us but we had total faith in the pilots above."
As dawn broke on the first day, Alpha (Grenadier) Company began to exploit the compounds that they had assaulted. They found an 'Aladdin's cave' of insurgent ammunition, 28kg of explosives, medical supplies, communications equipment and weaponry.
The finds included two motorbikes rigged as suicide bombs. Significantly, a grenade-launcher and recoilless rifle, both of which had been used effectively against coalition forces in the area for some months, were also recovered.
Meanwhile, Bravo Company had broken into three insurgent defensive lines to link with Alpha Company. They fought off insurgent counter-attacks to hold their ground. Corporal Jim Copeland said:
"The insurgent's defences were extraordinary. The wadi was lined with dug-in bunkers with interconnecting trenches, rat-runs and tunnel systems.
"IEDs laced the ground to their front. To the rear, the buildings had carefully constructed sniper positions and nearby hides were found where they cached their weapons.
"All around, strike marks in the walls told the story of where previous coalition assaults had attempted to dislodge the insurgent."
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