Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR), known as Salerno Company, have seen significant improvements in their area of operations during their tour, allowing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to take on more responsibility for security throughout the district.
Salerno Company arrived in Helmand in September of last year, taking over from J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, and the soldiers found themselves under daily attack from insurgents in both the checkpoints they occupied and while they were out on patrol.
Captain Fraser Hunter, Salerno Company Second-in Command, said:
We took over the fight from J Company in September and spent the first few months of the tour under regular attack from the insurgents.
There were very few ANSF in the area when we arrived, and we were mostly patrolling on our own. It was clear that we needed to work closely with the Afghan forces to clear the insurgents from the area and allow the ANSF to establish a presence in the area to provide their own security.
In December, working closely with the Afghan Army and Police, headed by other elements of 1 PWRR, Salerno Company took part in two major operations to clear insurgents from Nad ‘Ali and establish an ANSF presence.
The first operation cleared one of the main routes through the area linking Gereshk to the Nad ‘Ali district centre, allowing the establishment of three new Afghan Uniform Police (AUP) checkpoints. This operation opened up the road, allowing the movement of goods and local people between bazaars in the area.
The second operation cleared insurgents from the agricultural area surrounding the Shamalan Canal. This allowed the Afghan National Army to establish checkpoints along the canal to prevent the insurgents from reinfiltrating the area.
Captain Hunter said:
These operations have meant that the ANSF have been able to operate independently in the area, and have been able to respond to the needs of the population.
The local people now feel that security is vastly improved in their area, and are now actively supporting the ANSF. The AUP checkpoint commanders in the area have built up a good rapport with the local people, and have become popular members of the local communities.
Salerno Company have handed over checkpoints to the ANSF, and from December the district has officially transitioned, meaning the ANSF have taken over responsibility for security in the area.
The last months of the tour have been quieter for 1 PWRR, with a significant drop in insurgent activity, due to the clearance of insurgents from the area and the establishment of a framework of security provided by the ANSF.
Major Phill Moxey, Officer Commanding Salerno Company, said:
I am extremely proud of what our soldiers have achieved in the past six months. We arrived into an area the insurgents still wanted to control and they fought us for it.
We and our ANSF partners prevailed and we now see a transformed security situation with locals free to live their daily lives in a secure area, with security provided first and foremost by fellow Afghans.
A Company will soon hand over their area of responsibility to D Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh.
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