Monday, March 22, 2010
EXCLUSIVE: Royal Welsh deliver another blow to the Taliban
Hundreds of lives, both British and Afghan, have been saved thanks to the efforts of Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh.
In two operations just a week apart they have uncovered some of the largest quantities of IEDs and IED components found in theatre to date.
In Nad-e-Ali, central Helmand they discovered 260 IEDs, 38 detonators, 57 weapons varying from anti-tank mines to rocket propelled grenades to AK47 machine guns and grenades.
Eight kilograms of homemade explosives were found hidden underneath piles of dry poppy and fertiliser sacks containing approximately 165 IED components, which had the potential to make hundreds of IEDs.
The troops from A Company (A COY) and B Company (B COY) made the find as they were flushing out insurgents from their areas of operation.
As the Welsh warriors from B Company got close to the enemy positions they came under a barrage of small arms fire. Taking cover where they could, the troops quickly set about identifying the enemy’s firing positions. When they were unable to do so they called in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
These machines have proved to be an invaluable resource to British and ISAF troops on the ground during the Operation and throughout the Afghan campaign. Four men were soon detected acting suspiciously by some compounds, south of where the soldiers were located.
Displaying the professionalism that marks soldiers of the Royal Welsh, the troops moved rapidly to positions closer to the compound. The gunmen had disappeared but what they were protecting was perhaps even more important. Lance Corporal O’Brien and Fusilier Stephen Handley conducted a methodical search of the compounds and uncovered the cache of weapons, IEDs and a multitude of components to make even more of the deadly devices that have claimed British lives during this campaign.
Just days before ‘A’ Company had pushed forward without resistance to a compound near the bazaar in central Nad-e Ali.
Lt Chris Annear, 30, from Lymington serving with A Company said:
“We were surprised we met so little resistance. Many of the compounds seemed unoccupied. We found one with a local national residing in it. When we asked him if there were any IEDs in the area he pointed to the three compounds surrounding his. We went in and couldn’t believe our eyes. It was the jackpot; an IED factory with areas for making home-made explosives, storage areas and IED assembly areas.”
This find is believed to have cut off the supply chain to the insurgents in the area of Showal and taken away their factories and storage facilities.
IEDs have been responsible for approximately 80 per cent of British deaths in Helmand province over the last two years. The finds will be another blow to the Taliban’s Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat who are being forced out of an area that was once their stronghold.
Fusilier Stephen Handley, 21, B COY Royal Welsh, from Rumney, Cardiff who joined the regiment last year said:
“We had a small find in the first few days of the Operation so it became second nature to search under haystacks when we were in a suspicious area. This time it really paid off and it is a great feeling knowing we have potentially saved hundreds of lives with this find.”
Lance Corporal Zack O’Brien, 24, B COY Royal Welsh, from Oakdale, Blackwood said:
“This is my third tour of Afghanistan with the Royal Welsh and to find all this IED equipment is a real high point and I really hope that we have helped to save the lives of other soldiers and local civilians.”
Capt Nick Zorab, 27, B COY second in command, from Edinburgh said:
“This find has really raised the spirits of the men and it proves you can always rely on the professionalism of a Welsh soldier.”
Since the start of Operation Moshtarak the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh have conducted a number of operations with their ANA counterparts of 1/3/201 Kandak in this area of central Helmand in order to provide the security the local population need to build a future free of Taliban intimidation.