Friday, May 28, 2010

A junior officer's experience on the front line post Op Moshtarak

Clearing, holding, building in the green zone of Afghanistan - A junior officer's experience on the front line post Op Moshtarak

British cavalry soldiers from C Squadron, the Royal Dragoon Guards, take up the mantel to protect and rebuild the village of Gorup-e Shash Kalay, near Nad-e-Ali following Operation Moshtarak. The village sits on the green zone's frontline.

The cavalry soldiers, more used to moving around the battlefield in armoured reconnaissance vehicles, are carrying out a dismounted infantry role during their six-month tour of Afghanistan. The platoon, from the Catterick based Royal Dragoon Guards have recently taken over a patrol base in the southern part of the Nad-e-Ali district. The location was cleared of Taliban insurgents during Operation Moshtarak earlier in the year. The mission for the junior officer in charge, Lieutenant Nick Landon, is to provide security and redevelopment within the village's surrounding area.

"Prior to Op Moshtarak taking place to the south of Nad-e-Ali, this place was dominated by the Taliban. Certainly, when the first ISAF forces moved into this area they were unable to push south any more than 300 metres before they would see fire fights with the enemy," said Lieutenant Nick Landon, C Squadron, the Royal Dragoon Guards.

He continues, "Since Moshtarak has pushed the Taliban further to the south, the locals have seen a number of improvements into the village - reconstruction projects helped by ISAF and the Afghan National Police working with the village elder. We've currently got a 'cash-for-works' project ongoing just outside the patrol base to clear some irrigation ditches, allowing better irrigation to the farmers' crops and improving the quality of the road surface just out to the west."

Although fighting has reduced, the soldiers are still aware of the dangers of carrying out redevelopment work on the frontline of enemy troops.

"There is far less fighting around Group-e Shash than there was during Op Moshtarak. However, in the last few weeks we've had a number of shoots onto the sangers in the patrol base, which has helped keep the guys focused that it could very quickly turn kinetic," said Lieutenant Landon.

ISAF's presence near Group-e Shash Kalay is an example of the Helmand Taskforce commander's focus to 'clear', 'hold', and 'build' key population areas around the green zone. By providing joint security on the ground with ISAF and Afghan security forces, redevelopment projects with the locals can be undertaken, allowing communities to rebuild their lives.

"Now that ISAF are showing that we can clear the Taliban, and once the Taliban have gone we can bring reconstruction and development to the towns, we're finding that a lot of local nationals are coming to the patrol base for assistance," said Lieutenant Landon.


  1. So many of the 'units' are taking on infantry roles (artillery/cavalry) - (retraining on the job comes to mind) - and our troops are now becoming 'builders': Why are we paying 'cash' to the locals to clear their land - they should be grateful that 'we' are providing the material/men to help build this country (note: NOT REBUILD): We are pushing the Taleban further south - but at some stage they can go no further (so where will they be going) into other countries and working (planning) from there - its all very well trying to 'rebuild' a country and give them things they never had, but where and when will it stop?...This task does not seem to have an ending...and in the meantime, our troops have to watch their backs - fronts and everywhere in between as it only takes one bullet to destroy a life and to destroy family and friends back home....You really don't get enough credit for what you have to endure there - we moaned last weekend that it was 28 degrees - you have that at 7am - wish I could bring you all home today - no matter what you are doing, know we are all praying for you at home and wish you were here -Proud of All our Troops

  2. I too watch with dismay as our well-trained killers are forced to become Civil Affairs on call. It used to be that everyone was an infantryman first, soon it will be everyone has to wear a smiley face shirt under their flak jacket. We have declared an end date with no end state. What we leave Afghanistan with will be destroyed in a matter of months and as you pointed out, all those single bullets or amateur IEDs have already destroyed entire families. Our military is meant to bring peace through absolute firepower not by asking people very politely if they would mind if we rebuilt their country. They're always going to want more and they're always going to blame us in public, thanking us only in private, at least under this current time plan. To undo a thousand years and the tenets of an aggressive religion in just a year or so?? I don't think so ...