Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Joint ANA / ISAF Search Operation

A contribution from 3 Rifles: Joint ANA / ISAF search operation in south wishtan disrupts insurgents and gives locals improved confidence in security.

The urban area of southern Wishtan is a complex web of intricate alleyways which houses many of the poorer members of Sangin society, often from the Ishaqzai tribe. They are especially vulnerable to influence by the insurgency, for money and, at times, prestige. The nature of the ground in the area affords insurgents relative freedom of movement and during attacks they have been seen to use mosques and madrassas to move weapons. Following a number of different attacks an accurate picture of the enemy’s modus operandi was developed and the ANA planned an operation to search suspect locations. The two targets were a mosque and a madrassa, the latter a location which had been found during an earlier patrol to carry anti-ISAF propaganda. In addition, the madrassa Mullah’s son attacked ISAF earlier in March with small arms fire and was detained having been wounded during the ISAF precision counter-attack that resulted.

It is interesting that the Mullah exhorted his support for ISAF during the search despite his son’s insurgent allegiance and the anti-ISAF murals in his madrassa. While he may have been dissembling, there is the real possibility of a man intimidated by the insurgency – stuck between a rock and a hard place. The division present in some families in Sangin is tragic and represents the effect of relentless conflict. Many of the traditional tribal, family and social structures have been badly damaged by war and it is for this reason that the new District Governor, Mohammed Sharif, has made tribal unity his highest priority.

The planning for this operation started 4 days before it was executed. On the ground, the ANA led during the entire search. The ANA commanders knew many of the occupants in each target - this detailed local knowledge is something ISAF find difficult to replicate and shows the immense value of the Combined Force. In depth of the search were troops from three different ISAF companies, some mounted, some dismounted. The insurgents actively tried to disrupt the search and there was constant scouting of ISAF and ANA positions from a number of different areas. However, due to the strength in Combined Force numbers they could not mount an attack. This display of confidence has improved the local perception of GiROA security, and the details collected on locals in the area of the search have improved understanding in a complex area with its intricate network of tribes.


  1. About time the ANA took the lead.
    Bring our troops home & leave them to it.

  2. Read with interest - also feel that perhaps the Muslim leaders in the UK should be shown this article especially as they would like the 'mock' mosques taken down in Catterick.