Royal Marines of 40 Commando and their Afghan Army colleagues have stormed an insurgent compound in Helmand, seizing 40kg of homemade explosives and equipment for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The biggest find to date for the Commandos should hamper Sangin-based insurgents in their efforts to undermine security in the area.
The Royal Marines say they’ve sent a stark message to the insurgents that there are no longer any ‘no-go’ areas in the Sangin district.
40 Commando Group Operations Officer, Major Duncan Forbes, said:
We will ruthlessly target those who seek to destabilise the region.
The isolated IED factory was targeted after a number of small arms engagements from a series of compounds on the high ground to the east of Forward Operating Base Nolay and Patrol Base Jamil.
The Royal Marines of 40 Commando and their Afghan partners watched the area closely in advance.
The Commandos sprang into action after a covert overnight insertion from two separate locations. A mobile Quick Reaction Force patrol was primed to support the operation.
At first light the patrol made their final approach towards the compound where weapons were visible through the open archways. Using their well-rehearsed counter-IED drills they isolated the compound and, on discovering the explosives cache, called in the counter-IED experts.
The operation was a complete success with no casualties and no collateral damage. The bomb disposal team destroyed the explosives and recovered the remaining items for further examination. Major Forbes said:
It was like finding a mini-factory of IEDs. All the components and materials required to construct them were stored inside the compound.
The 40 Commando Chief of Staff, Major Andy Walker, said:
This is an excellent find. Today, with our Afghans partners, we have stopped the insurgents from using these materials to make IEDs, which they use to maim and kill indiscriminately. Nobody here wants them. Too many people, including children, are getting hurt.
Once the compound was secured and declared safe from IED booby-traps, the patrol held a number of shuras, or meetings, with the local nationals to inform them that the area is now safe.