Posts Tagged ‘Bastion’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Story and photos by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As the tour of duty for many soldiers with  British Advisory Group 3rd Kandak 215th Corps, (Two Rifles Battle Group), comes  to an end, many of them can look back at their work and see the results of their  time advising the local security forces when they see a more independent Afghan  National Army.
British troops played a supporting role in Operation Now  Roz, March 16 through 19. During the operation, they observed Afghan National  Security Forces securing the Yakchal Valley almost twice as fast as they  expected.
“The ANSF have done really well,” said British Cpl. John D.  Elliot, a section commander with Two Rifles. “They are quite professional. The  locals are showing the ANA appreciation, which I believe is winning the  war.”
Elliot, who first deployed to Sangin district approximately three  years ago, said things have definitely changed since then, when they had to  teach the ANA the most basic military skills. “They are taking care of things  themselves,” said Elliot, 24, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. “Advising them is  much easier.”
When he arrived on Camp Gereshk as a battlefield casualty  replacement during December, British Capt. Oliver C.S. Little, a Tolay Adviser  Training Team commander with Two Rifles was expecting a less disciplined ANA  then what he found.
“My expectations were that they would be at pretty  basic skill levels,” said Little, 26, from Tisbury, Wiltshire. “Everything I’ve  seen them do, they’ve done with a lot of professionalism.” Little said his  advisers have refreshed the ANA on first-aid and map reading skills, but the  only kinds of support they’ve needed to provide is helicopter-based casualty  evacuation, fires and surveillance. He added that the Afghan soldiers have done  a good job of training themselves.
“I think from what I’ve seen at the  start state of the tour to where they are now, I’ve been massively impressed  with the progression,” said Little. “They are now at a state where I believe  they could completely plan and conduct an operation themselves.” After the  ANA’s success in Operation Now Roz, the adviser has even more confidence in  their abilities.
“I think the next step is pulling back even more,” said  Little. “With a couple of things from us, they can look after themselves.  They’re able to map read, able to bring about better results.”
Little  also noted that an ANA training team usually relies on a sergeant and an officer  to complete their tasks, but during this tour the whole platoon-sized team got  involved, which produced strong results.
“I think it’s quite interesting.  A lot of the guys don’t get a chance to get involved with the ANA as much as  possible, so we’ve quite often used them to deliver lessons to the ANA, which  gives them a good chance to get involved,” he said
During their  Afghanistan tour, Little’s team stayed involved in the ANA’s development, and  built a strong relationship with their Afghan counterparts.
“It’s all  about relationships,” said Little. “If the guys have a good relationship with  them, and the guys have a good relationship with the ANA, then things work  smoothly. Generally speaking, the better the relationship, the better their  output is going to be, because they trust you to do the right thing.”

Advertisements

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Story and photos by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan troops cleared a Taliban stronghold the Yakchal Valley, with the support of International Security Assistance Forces, during Operation Now Roz, March 16 – 19.

During the operation, the Afghan National Security Forces discovered more than 40 improvised explosive devices, arrested known Taliban members and discovered caches which included IED components and suicide vests.

Senior Afghan National Army leadership planned and led the operation to secure the objective.

“The ANA seemed to dominate the ground pretty effectively,” said British Sgt. Chris G. Bannon, a platoon sergeant with British Advisory Group, 3rd Kandak, 215th Corps, (Two Rifles Battle Group). “They had a positive effect on local nationals, who were pleased to see the ANA. It’s quite easy to say that their presence on the ground forced the insurgents out.”

After several years of developing the ANA, British soldiers on their second tour of duty in Afghanistan note significant improvement in the ANSF capabilities.

“I think this is definitely a step forward,” said Bannon, 29, from Leyburn, Yorkshire. “I saw the ANA company a couple years ago and they wouldn’t manage it. It’s better now. The ANA are independent. It’s good to see them taking the lead in their country.”

The ANSF forces weren’t the only ones on the ground. British and Danish troops were there too, but only in a supporting role.

“The only things they ever can need from us is helicopter-based casualty evacuation, fires, and (surveillance),” said British Capt. Oliver C.S. Little, a Tolay Advisor Training Team commander with Two Rifles. “Having said that, they’re not going to have it once we leave.”

Little, 26, from Tisbury, Wiltshire, added that the ANSF will need to find ways around that and have begun to plan accordingly.

“As we’ve seen on this operation, they can get a casualty out on the ground,” said Little. “They can do it very quickly, so they are more than capable of going it alone.”

While the roles of the ISAF and the ANSF are changing, the Afghan troops are building on their knowledge of their homeland and have begun to fight in a way which the local population can support.

“Their concepts and the way they do things is different to ours, given the fact they are not a western army,” said Bannon. “They get the job done in good order, and they are respected by the local nationals.”

The mission did more than clear a historically strong Taliban area, it showed that the ANSF are growing in professionalism.

“It sent the message out to the insurgents that the ANSF are completely capable of planning and mounting large operations such as (Operation Now Roz) successfully,” said Bannon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Story and photos by Cpl. Meredith Brown

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan – Some days it is better to be lucky than good.

For Sgt. Jacob P., a Danish tank commander with Jutland Dragoon Regiment, luck was definitely on his side on two separate occasions in January.

On Jan. 5, Jacob was manning the turret in his Leopard 2 tank while providing overwatch during Operation Shamali Kamarband when he came under enemy fire. Jacob was shot in his right shoulder and fell down inside his tank. He immediately came back up after looking through his optics and located the enemy, engaged him and killed him by returning fire with his machine gun.

Following the firefight, the Holstebro, Denmark native had to be medically evacuated to Bastion Role 3 Hospital, adjacent to Camp Leatherneck, for treatment.

During his stay, Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general Regional Command (Southwest), was making his routine visits through the hospital when he came across the soldier. He came back to his office and told Sgt. Maj. Michael F. Jones, sergeant major RC (SW), he needed to go visit him. During his visit, Jacob clearly recalled his story to Jones.

Then on Jan. 22 during a battle circulation tour, Toolan and Jones visited a Danish task force, operating out of Forward Operating Base Price, to say farewell, congratulate them on their many achievements and the accomplishments in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

“At that time, the commander pointed out Jacob to the [commanding general] and we had him come up and do a photo session,” said Jones. The (commanding general) got inside the tank and Jacob showed him several technical aspects of the tank.”

It was just 10 days later that Toolan and Jones once again found themselves in the Bastion Role 3 Hospital visiting Jacob.

While talking with Toolan, Jacob recalled the events surrounding his second medical evacuation in a month.

Jacob and his crew were out on a patrol showing the incoming officer-in-charge the lay of the land.

They were South of Route 611, the main road between Sangin and Kajaki districts, when Jacob noticed something was wrong with one of the tracks on his tank. He stopped the convoy and got out to inspect the track. He noticed that a portion of the track was offset, so he got a hammer and started hitting the track to put it back into place, making the tank more mobile so they could continue their mission.

It was then Jacob had a feeling that someone was watching him. He looked back over his shoulder and saw somebody approximately 500 meters away. The man proceeded to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the tank. The RPG fell short as Jacob dived for protection as far from the tank as possible. He came up unscathed and began inspecting the tank for damage.

After inspecting the tank and deeming it okay, he made an attempt to return to the tank when he was shot in the right shoulder by a sniper. He immediately began yelling to his crew with instructions on the location of the enemy so that they could engage the insurgent.

With sniper fire hitting the ground all around him Jacob made another attempt to return to his tank. It was then he was shot in his left thigh. Once again he was forced to seek cover.

When he thought he could make it to the tank, he tried again. As he was crawling into the tank another round from the sniper shot him in his left leg.

Despite the fact that he had just been shot three times, Jacob instructed his crew from inside the tank on the location of the insurgent. They fired a 120mm round that fell short. However, the second round was a direct hit in the insurgent’s abdomen.

Jacob contributes his success and health to his crew of 12 years.

As they headed back to the nearest patrol base, the gunner and loader began to render medical care to Jacob. They cut off his clothes, assessed the wounds and began to bandage them.

The loader plugged the wound in his shoulder with his finger to stop the bleeding.

After the convoy arrived at PB Clifton, Jacob was waiting for the medical evacuation, when the Taliban released the name of the sniper they had lost.

A British commander came up to Jacob and thanked him for killing the sniper. The sniper had killed five of his men.

“I’m so happy I took the guy out, it really meant a lot to me,” said Jacob.

“It meant a lot to you last time too,” Toolan chuckled in response. “You’re not only going to go down in Danish lore, but you’re going to go down in USMC lore.”

“He was humble,” recalled Jones. “Like we read about when people have done great deeds on the battlefield. Even to the point of almost ducking his head and lowering his eyes to say ‘I did what anyone else would have done in those circumstances.’”

“I thought that was so profound for me to see this man had been injured twice, on two separate occasions on the battlefield, pretty extensively, conducted himself the way he did, it was pretty humbling,” said Jones.