Sunday, July 18, 2010

Afghan National Army lead the way on Operation Omid Do

In the clearest sign yet that the work to prepare Afghan security forces for is progressing at pace, five hundred Afghan troops – trained by the British Army - led the way into a Taliban stronghold last Sunday morning, in their own operation to reinstate Government authority and bring security to the area.

The operation, known as Op Omid Do (Hope 2), was the culmination of weeks of planning by Colonel Sheren Shah, the Commander of the 3rd Kandak (Brigade), and his staff based in Camp Shorabak in the Helmand desert near Camp Bastion – one of the first major operations entirely planned and executed under Afghan National Army (ANA) command.

Col Sheren Shan Koradi briefing his soldiers before Operation Omid Do
Photo: Cpl Paul Randall RLC/MOD

The Afghan troops have been trained and mentored on by a team from The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Herbert OBE.

On 11 July the ANA force led the convoy out of their camp to move east through Gereskh to a Check Point on the outskirts of a village called Yakchal. By 6pm, Afghan reconnaissance teams and military engineers were moving forward towards another village, Safian, bridging the wider drainage ditches that crossed the area.

As the day went on there were sporadic incidents of small arms fire and one unit came under attack from rocket-propelled grenade fire.

Sergeant Rahman from the 3rd Kandak, 3rd Brigade Afghan National Army explained:

“We deal with insurgents firing at us nearly every day; so we weren’t afraid by this situation in Yakchal. When we came under RPG fire, we spent some time finding out where it was coming from and engaged him. We were supported by ISAF Apache helicopters – the rest of the insurgents fled.”

The ANA lead the way on Op Domid Do
Photo: Crown Copyright/MOD 2010

The ANA and their ISAF partners spent the night in compounds in the Safian area before moving further south the following morning.

The main threat from the insurgents by this stage in the operation shifted to that of freshly-emplaced IEDs, but the ANA were able to spot the recently placed explosives and were able to deploy their own disposal teams to eliminate the threat.

Reflecting on the success of the operation, Lt Col Herbert added:

“Omid Do is a significant operation. For the first time we have seen in central Helmand a truly ANA-planned and ANA-led operation whereby they really are the supported command with ISAF working in a supporting role. This was an operation that was conceived by them, planned by them, executed by them with us very much in support. So as we move towards a point where we transfer security control over to the Afghans, this is quite a significant moment along the way.

For the 1SCOTS Advisors, it was also an opportunity for them to see the extensive training that they had given to the Brigade – at all levels. The lead infantry companies responded effectively and with restraint under fire; and the Staff officers showed thorough understanding of operational planning and execution.

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