Kamis, Juli 08, 2010

Royal Marine Commandos clear busy street of explosive devices in Sangin

Royal Marines from Charlie Company, 40 Commando Group have carried out an operation to clear improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a busy market street in the village of Pylae in the Sangin valley. Working in conjunction with colleagues from the Counter-IED Task Force, the marines put in place a cordon around the suspect street to prevent locals from endangering themselves during the clearance and to limit interference from insurgents.

“Today, we’re conducting an IED clearance operation. My call sign is taking arcs out to the south. We’ve just occupied a roof top that has good arcs, and will remain here while the IED clearance team carry out their business,” said Lieutenant Doug Spencer, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines.

The village of Pylae and its patrol base is on the front line of enemy troops, with patrols from 40 Commando identifying several IEDs in the village and surrounding area over recent weeks. Operations have been mounted to remove the devices but often the Taliban move them to new locations under the cover of darkness.

On this occasion, a residential street where several IEDs had been confirmed was targeted by Combined Force Sangin. The road had been out of bounds to ISAF troops and locals until the operation went in.

8 Troop of Charlie Company took up positions on the roof of a compound close to the road, allowing them to have arcs of view over the area. Using a range of small arms weapons, including the new Sharpshooter rifle, the marines created an observation post so they could speak to civilians to warn them of the danger as well monitoring possible insurgent positions.

Royal Marine Brandon Hubbs, from Toronto said,

“This morning we’ve got two troops to come down from FOB [forward operating base] Jackson to our position. We’ve moved out with the ATO [Ammunition Technical Officer] to clear an IED. Our multiple has come into this compound to create a southern most cordon from the FLET [forward line of enemy troops] which is about 80 metres to my rear. Up on the roof here we have a few lads who are covering down, we’ve got linkmen and the medic as a cas-e-vac group out behind me – and right now I’m just manning the net [radio] and relaying any messages, whilst still providing over-watch to our rear.”

Lieutenant Spencer said,

“We all have a bit of rudimentary Pashtu which we have been shouting at the locals as they come towards us. In addition we’ve got our ‘terp’ who also shouts. Some have been coming past on motorbikes quite fast and ignoring our shouts, so we’ve had to fire mini flares into the air above the motorbikes as they come by - that usually stops them.”

During the course of the operation, which lasted several hours, the marines and Army bomb disposal experts were fired upon twice with shots landing a few meters from the ATO. Despite this, bomb disposal experts moved forward to deal with three suspected devices, which were confirmed along the walled road. To get to the devices safely, the disposal team had to manoeuvre over several roof tops. In addition, marines from 8 Troop created a smoke screen to let the ATO move forward under cover.

“After the IED team went forward to the fist device, they believed there to be a second. However, it was felt there was quite a significant threat. So it was necessary for us in the cordon to throw smoke and provide them with a bit of cover while they went forward. There they found another device and placed a charge on it to clear it,” commented Lieutenant Spencer.

UK Forces are deployed to Afghanistan in support of the UN authorised, NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and as part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). UK operations in Afghanistan are being conducted under the name Operation HERRICK.

Task Force Helmand is the name given to UK-led forces in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.

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