1 Rifles, 39 Engineer Squadron build new command post in Helmand province

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Afghan National Police, Afghan Security

Story and photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Snodgrass

Sapper Paul Thomas, a combat engineer with the 39 Engineer Squadron, 24 Commando Royal Engineer Regiment, places barriers into position on a lookout tower at Command Post Kahmanan, Helmand province, July 30. The royal engineers constructed the new post during Operation Kapcha Afsana 9, which was implemented to replace CP Leverett with CP Kahmanan to secure more area north of the village Narh Khil, Helmand province.

COMMAND POST KHAMANAN,Afghanistan – U.K. soldiers with A Company, 1 Rifles, and a section from 39 Engineer Squadron, 24 Commando Royal Engineer Regiment, participated in Operation Kapcha Afsana 9, July 24 through Aug. 6, to establish a new command post north of Narh Khil, Helmand province.

The establishment of the new command post, dubbed Kahmanan, increased the area of responsibility secured by the battlegroup and freedom of movement for International Security Assistance Forces and locals.

The operation progressed in several phases, beginning with A Company securing the area around CP Kahmanan against insurgent activities.

“The first few phases consisted of reconnaissance of the four compounds we intended to use for the CP, IED clearance and road maintenance along the route to the CP,” said Capt. Ben Cooper, A Company battle captain and a Darlington, U.K., native. “The last phases consisted of setting up the actual CP and embedding our soldiers and their Afghan National Army counterparts at the CP.”

During the first phases of the operation, insurgent resistance posed a significant threat to the riflemen of A Company.

“We located and disposed of three IEDs along route Trident, the main road to the new CP,” said Cooper. “Our intel reports that we’ve been able to push the insurgents north of our position, but they still have ambush and sniping capabilities. We have to be vigilant for all the possible threats while we’re setting up the new CP.”

In order to make CP Kahmanan operational, the compounds had to be fortified to increase security.

“We’ve constructed elevated sangars [barriers] to serve as lookout posts around the compounds, and we’ve eliminated trees from obstructing our visual line of sight around the area,” said Lance Cpl. Brummie Connon, a section commander with 39 Engineer Squadron.

During the building process, the engineers encountered mechanical problems with their heavy digging machinery, causing them to complete many of the tasks, including virtually all of the digging, by hand.

“It’s been rough,” said Connon. “We’ve had to fill 1,600 sandbags per guard tower in over a hundred degree heat. It wasn’t very much fun.”

Connon said he was impressed by the attitude of his workers toward completing their mission.

“They’ve all done more than what was asked of them,” he said. “There was never any let up. Everyone has pushed themselves really hard to get this place set up.” The new CP will have the ability to support ISAF and ANA soldiers as they conduct patrols to increase security in the area.

“The new CP allows us to patrol more area effectively,” said Sjt. Nick Ireland, a squadron commander with A Company. “We’ve increased the security for the villages of Tabila, Narh Khil and Padaka.”

A Company and 39 Engineer Squadron have relocated three command posts for various units in Helmand province since arriving in April.

“We’ve been able to make a lot of progress for the amount of time we’ve been here,” said Ireland. “It’s due to the massive effort of our guys. They work harder and more efficiently than we could’ve imagined, and as a result we’ve accomplished more than we thought we’d be able to.”

“The new CP is part of the overall objective of establishing a secure nation in which the people can prosper,” added Cooper. “Everyday we’re working to increase the security of the areas we patrol and support the local Afghan population. Slowly, but surely, we’re making it easier for them to live their lives.”

Additional photos here.

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