Monday, March 8, 2010

PICTURE of the day: Fighting alongside the Afghan Army and Police

Fusilier Smith heading out with the British troops to join the ANA and ANP on their patrol

The patrol started off just like any other from Patrol Base Shaheed (2.5 Km North East of Showal) on Thursday 4 March 2010. The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police were in the lead as they are for most of the patrols in the area. As usual they had with them a handful of British soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, there to offer support if needed.

Patrol Base Shaheed was set up following Operation Moshtarak which took place just over three weeks ago. It was the largest air assault in Helmand since the campaign started in 2001.

Patrolling in the green zone, the soldiers were out to dominate the ground taken during the operation which took place just three weeks ago.

An hour into the patrol the tranquility was shattered just after the Afghan Security Forces left a compound where they had been talking to village elders.

Insurgents opened up on the rear of patrol from a few hundred meters away using neighboring compounds for cover. The patrol took cover in an irrigation ditch observing the insurgents movements and returning fire.

Using the ANA and ANP to suppress the insurgents the British troops moved location to join up with the ANA and ANP commanders. While the Afghans kept the insurgents pinned down the British patrol commander Lieutenant Adam Libby called in surveillance aircraft to monitor the insurgent’s movements as well as a show of force.

Within minutes a US fast jet was flying in within a few hundred feet of the ground, dropping flares to send out a very clear message to the insurgents that the patrol on the ground had some very significant firepower to call on if needed.

The key to this firefight was to use just the right amount of force to suppress the insurgents and minimise damage to the area. All around us farmers and their families were tending to their crops and going about their day as usual.

With aircraft up in the sky monitoring the situation the patrol headed back to base knowing that the insurgents every move was being tracked.

Commenting on the way the soldiers reacted during the fight, Lieutenant Adam Libby from B Company, 1 Royal Welsh said, “My lads reacted well and got on with what they had to do. The Afghans need a bit of direction but they are brave and willing to fight and there enthusiasm goes a long way. They did well today, pushing back the insurgents and sending them a pretty clear message that they are not welcome here in Shaheed.”

The pictures below were taken on the patrol and tell the story.

Pictures: Major Paul Smyth

The British join in at the back of the patrol behind the ANA and ANP.

Shaheed children come out to watch the patrol.

Watching the patrol pass by and making the most of the shade from the afternoon sun

Steady progress on the patrol

Children stop tending to the crop to watch the patrol

Lt Adam Libby keeps an eye out for trouble.

A local farmer with feed for his animals

The ANA Commander orders the move off after after the Afghan Security Forces leave a compound where they had been talking to village elders.

Fusilier Smith waits until it is time to move off

An Afghan National Policeman looking out for insurgents as rounds come in over our heads

Under fire - Lt Adam Libby calls in surveillance aircraft as well as a 'show of force' from a low flying fast jet.

The ANA commander engaging the insurgents

A fast jet fly in low dropping flares in a 'show of force'.

Reorganising after the firefight

Heading back to the patrol base now that the insurgents are being tracked

An Apache flies overhead to monitor the situation

Job done everyone OK and heading back to base


  1. Superbes photos...vous souhaite à tous bon courage !

  2. Awesome photos here.National Geographic level.

  3. Major Paul Smythe, great blog ... and ... amazing photography of brave soldiers and Afghan villagers. Thank you. Jan D USA