Afghan and British soldiers bridge canal to relieve troubled area

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Afghan warriors and British soldiers recently bridged a canal while under enemy fire as part of an operation to bring security to a troubled area of Helmand province.

Operation ZMARAY SAIFULLAH 2 was planned and executed by Afghan warriors from the 4th Kandak (Battalion) of 3/215 Brigade, with help from British soldiers of the Brigade Advisory Group.

The operation involved Afghan engineers bridging the Nahr-e Saraj canal to allow troops to clear the area of Mohajeri in central Helmand and to search compounds known to have been used as enemy firing points.

Shortly into the operation the patrol came into contact with the enemy. The Afghan engineer team held their nerve and bridged the canal whilst under fire, allowing their troops to advance.

The insurgents initially fought to regain the initiative from the Afghan Army, but on realising the strength of the numbers involved and the tenacity of the opposing forces they stopped firing and retreated.

Staff Sergeant Chris Leid is part of 26 Engineer Regiment who are advising the Afghan engineers. He said:

The building of the assault bridge allowed the Afghans to patrol further north. By using the bridge we approached from an unexpected direction, achieving an element of surprise that put the insurgents on the back foot.

They initially tried to repel the patrols but when they realised the strength and determination of the Afghan Army they had to fall back.

After a tough start, the operation progressed smoothly with a good level of communication between the Afghan units involved, demonstrating a developing level of command from the Afghan Army officers.

Evidence was recovered during the compound searches which, under the supervision of the Royal Military Police, was despatched for forensic investigation. During the operation five insurgents were detained by the Afghan security forces.

Corporal Jamie McKie, from 3rd Battalion The Rifles, is part of the Brigade Advisory Group. He said:

The Afghan engineers stuck with the plan, moving forward as rounds ricocheted off sections of the bridge. This is testament to the courage and fearlessness of the Afghan warriors. They may lack finesse but make up for it with character, instinct and a good dose of common sense.