Saturday, May 1, 2010
Afghan soldier working with 1 SCOTS finds 177 IEDs
An Afghan National Army soldier working alongside British troops in Helmand province holds the record for finding the most improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.
Ajab Han, a sergeant in the Afghan National Army (ANA) working with British troops from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland at a patrol base in the Sangin valley, has found 177 IEDs during his three years in Helmand:
"I know where they put them now," said Sergeant Ajab.
"It helps to know the terrain. I can also think like the insurgents, stay one step ahead of them, and keep my soldiers, and ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] soldiers safe. But we can make it better."
While detecting equipment is very useful he says just staying alert can be equally effective:
"I can just see them," he said.
"There might be a tell-tale trace, or something just not quite right, or a piece of wire or wood showing, and that is when I know I have found another one.
"IEDs often come in many parts so we have to find all the bits in the ground," he added.
His successes are etched on a beam on a watchtower next to the place where he sleeps, along with his army number and the description 'IED Team Sangin Special Force' written in English.
When asked if British soldiers were getting better at finding IEDs too, he smiled and nodded his head:
"Yes, they are very good. But they are still very happy that we are here to help them."
The allied forces have rewarded Sgt Ajab for his efforts with a certificate which he prizes:
"I always have it on me," he said.
"They know how much I am doing for them. And I am very pleased they are here, helping Afghanistan, too."
Captain Will Wright, the platoon commander from 1 SCOTS mentoring team working alongside Sgt Ajab and his soldiers, said:
"Patrolling with the ANA gives us such an advantage.
"They see things we sometimes don't, they are brave beyond words, and we learn so much from them every day.
"Sergeant Ajab's skills are definitely much valued within this patrol base."
Sgt Ajab is due to end his tour with the ANA in the next few months, but he says he is not ready to go home just yet:
"Now I have so much information about IEDs I want to be a teacher. I want to share my experience with the new soldiers joining the army.
"I want to teach them all they need to stay safe."