Thursday, February 11, 2010

British troops warned of dangers of Afghan mission

Thomas Harding, The Daily Telegraph

British troops in Afghanistan have been warned of the danger they will face in the days ahead in an eve of battle speech as they prepare for the imminent offensive against Taliban strongholds.

Speaking in front of 600 troops from the Royal Welsh Lt Col Nick Lock, the battle group's commanding officer told his men that they were embarking on "a historic mission" as they wait for Operation Moshtarak to begin.

"We are really at the tipping point in the future of the campaign but I am absolutely convinced of the necessity of this mission."He then told the soldiers gathered around him at Camp Bastion: "I'm not going to beat around the bush, this is a dangerous mission that we are going to conduct.

"I have confidence in your capabilities but do not become complacent. The insurgents will be watching you and looking for any weaknesses.

"But we are well prepared, we have a good plan and I am sure we will have huge success on this operation and we will get this job done."

The speech came as intelligence reports showed that hundreds of families in the central Helmand area had moved out of their homes in anticipation of the 15,000-strong assault.

Once on the ground the troops, who will be joined by equal numbers of Afghan police and army, will need to convince the population that "we are here to stay this time".

In the past troops have gone into areas but have been in too few numbers to remain and secure the population from Taliban intimidation.

Lt Col Lock urged his troops to "absolutely minimise" the chance of causing civilian casualties adding that they had shown "courageous restraint" when the Taliban had used children as human shields on previous operations.

The operation will see the launch of the biggest helicopter assault since the first Gulf War in 1991 and will dwarf the British attack on the Al Faw peninsula in the Iraq invasion of 2003.

The "overwhelming" force going into the area would demonstrate to the Taliban "that it is useless to resist," the officer said.

If the Taliban flee the area the Royal Welsh are braced for an intensive roadside bomb campaign.

In an earlier operation this week, launched in the run up to Moshtarak a Mastiff mine-protected vehicle detonated a substantial 80kg bomb but all seven soldiers inside survived unscathed.

During the assault on the village of Khusaal Kalay 220 British and Afghan troops pushed the Taliban out of the stronghold they had used as a refuge.

In one 50-yard stretch they found 12 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), one of which killed three Afghan soldiers.

"After a week the insurgents realised that the village was lost," said Major Ewan Harris, D Company commander. "We knew that they were on the back foot when they resorted to trying to use suicide bombers as they had no other way of countering our presence.

"That was the final throw of the dice for them."


  1. British soldiers,
    We are praying for each and every one of you, just as we do for our American troops. (Today we're in the midst of whiteout conditions with another massive blizzard hitting us today. Fed Govt has been closed since Friday.) Yes, absolutely minimize the chance of civilian casualties. We want to see this war turn around, so that we can get all of you home back to your families. Be smart, vigilant and never complacent. We in America deeply appreciate all you are doing.
    God be with you,
    John Umana
    Washington, DC

  2. Shoot first ask questions later lads.
    Protect yourselves at ALL COSTS.

  3. good luck and may god bless and keep you safe.