RAF snipers protect Afghan family from insurgent attack

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

Snipers from the RAF Regiment used their skills and training to protect an Afghan family caught up in an attack by insurgents in Helmand province.

Gunners from II Squadron RAF Regiment got local people, including children, to safety before turning their weapons on the attackers.

The incident happened during an operation by the unit in Helmand province where they have been working hard to build relations with the local community and regularly hold shuras (meetings) with local elders.

The news coincides with today’s (1 February 2012) 70th anniversary of the formation of the RAF Regiment in 1942. A unit from II Squadron, which is normally based at RAF Honington in Suffolk, was on a foot patrol when the attack happened.

The patrol, which included snipers, were sat down talking to elders and children when they came under fire from an insurgent position. Reacting quickly, the patrol ensured the civilians were out of harm’s way before taking cover themselves.

Members of II Squadron RAF Regiment and the Afghan National Army speak with local elders
Members of II Squadron RAF Regiment and the Afghan National Army speak with local elders [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Having positively identified the firing position, the RAF Regiment patrol returned fire with a range of weapons including the L115A3 long range rifle, a state-of-the-art weapon used to locate and eliminate enemy activity.

After the insurgent threat had passed the local family thanked the RAF Regiment by passing around naan bread.

The RAF Regiment, along with the RAF Police, provide essential force protection for the strategically-important Camp Bastion and the local area.

The RAF Regiment, who are the soldiers of the RAF and are known as Gunners, conduct foot and vehicle patrols with the Afghan National Army (ANA) to ensure that Camp Bastion and the local community is kept safe from insurgent attack.

Squadron Leader Jules Weekes, Officer Commanding II Squadron RAF Regiment, commented:

All the Gunners on the squadron are physically and mentally robust. In the three months we have been deployed the lads have performed to the highest of standards, with their activity and engagement helping to build a rapport with the local community, as well as reassuring them of the improving security situation.

The RAF continues to play a vital role across the whole of Afghanistan providing a wide range of capabilities from fast jet Tornado aircraft to Gunners on the ground where they partner and work with the ANA.

II Squadron RAF Regiment, a parachute-capable field squadron, has been deployed in Afghanistan since October 2011 and will continue to serve until May this year when they hand over to 51 Squadron RAF Regiment from RAF Lossiemouth.