Afghan forces and British troops clear insurgent hot spot

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

Afghan policemen accompanied by British troops recently cleared an insurgent hot spot to the east of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

At sunrise 90 Afghan police patrolmen supported by members of B Squadron of the King’s Royal Hussars and the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards patrolled into the village of Pulpazay. The area has suffered from intimidation and extortion by the insurgents and from the laying of IEDs.

The aim of the operation was to drive out the Taliban, allowing the Afghan forces to conduct policing within the area. This was one of the first joint operations of this scale to be conducted with the Afghan Uniform Police (AUP) in the district.

Captain Rob Bird, Second-in-Command of B Squadron of the King’s Royal Hussars, said:

This was definitely an Afghan pull and not an ISAF push operation. The Afghan police were extremely professional.

The offensive spirit of the Afghan police put the insurgents on the back foot. The operation highlighted the effectiveness of the Afghan police in leading and conducting partnered operations in the Lashkar Gah area. This operation was intended to send a clear message to the Taliban; you can no longer operate here.

The operation was controlled by the commanding officer of the Afghan police unit, Colonel Sattar Khan, who was advised by his British partner from the Lashkar Gah Transition Support Unit, Major Chris Badcock.

On moving into the insurgent stronghold the Afghan police came under fire but their superior knowledge of the area gave them the ability to quickly take control of the situation.

Colonel Khan, Commanding Officer of the 1st AUP Kandak (Battalion), said:

We worked alongside ISAF and caused some damage to the insurgent. I am confident that my police are very capable and soon we should be able to conduct similar operations to this on our own.

Responsibility for security in the Lashkar Gah district has recently transitioned from ISAF to the Afghan National Security Forces. The provision of security remains a joint effort; UK troops continue to support the Afghans as they take the lead and deepen the level of policing throughout the region.

Major Badcock, Officer Commanding B Squadron of the King’s Royal Hussars, said:

This operation clearly highlights the stage of transition we are in with the Afghan forces. The Afghan Police are a very capable force who, when on operations, demonstrate their professionalism and competency to handle themselves in tough situations.

Lashkar Gah was the first district in Helmand to transition to Afghan control in 2011, and Afghan forces have continued to make progress to independently tackle security matters.

The Lashkar Gah Transition Support Unit, led by the King’s Royal Hussars, has moved from a counter-insurgency role to focus on the continued training of the Afghan forces, concentrating on improving community policing skills.