News story

Sappers build new command post in Helmand

In a two-week operation codenamed KAPCHA AFSANA 9 (Cobra Legend 9), the Royal Engineers from 39 Armoured Engineer Squadron, part of 32 Engineer…

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

In a two-week operation codenamed KAPCHA AFSANA 9 (Cobra Legend 9), the Royal Engineers from 39 Armoured Engineer Squadron, part of 32 Engineer Regiment, constructed the command post, with Riflemen from A Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES), providing security.

The establishment of the new command post has increased the area of responsibility secured by 1 RIFLES and their Afghan National Security Forces partners - a move made possible by the successes they’ve achieved in other parts of southern Nahr-e Saraj district.

The command post will enable the further extension of protected communities and the expansion of routes allowing greater freedom of movement for ISAF and Afghan security forces and locals.

The operation progressed in several phases, beginning with Alpha Company (A Coy), 1 RIFLES, securing the area around Command Post Kahmanan against insurgent activities.

Captain Ben Cooper, A Coy’s Battle Captain, said:

The first few phases consisted of reconnaissance of the four compounds we intended to use for the command post, IED [improvised explosive device] clearance and road maintenance along the route.

The last phases consisted of setting up the actual command post and embedding our soldiers and their Afghan National Army [ANA] counterparts.

During the first phases of the operation, insurgent resistance posed a significant threat to the Riflemen of A Coy. Captain Cooper explained:

We located and disposed of three IEDs along Route Trident [a major highway, built by the Royal Engineers, which lies between Lashkar Gah and Gereshk in Helmand province], the main road to the new command post. We’ve made progress and pushed the insurgents north of our position, but they still have ambush and sniping capabilities. We have to be vigilant for all the possible threats while we’re setting up new command posts.

In order to make Command Post Kahmanan operational, the compounds had to be fortified to increase security and provide protection for the troops stationed there.

Lance Corporal Duane ‘Brummie’ Connon, a section commander with 39 Armoured Engineer Squadron, said:

We’ve constructed elevated sangars to serve as lookout posts around the compounds to give us a clear line of sight around the area.

During the building process, the engineers completed many of the tasks, including much of the digging, by hand:

It’s been rough. We’ve had to fill 1,600 sandbags per guard tower in over a hundred-degree heat. It wasn’t very much fun,” added Lance Corporal Connon.

The section commander said that he had been very impressed by the attitude of his team throughout the mission:

They’ve all done more than what was asked of them. There was never any let up. Everyone has pushed themselves really hard to get this place set up.

The new command post will have the ability to support ISAF and ANA soldiers as they conduct patrols to increase security in the area.

Serjeant* Nick Ireland, a Platoon Serjeant with A Coy, said:

The new command post allows us to patrol a wider area more effectively. We’ve increased the security for the villages of Tabila, Nahr Khil and Padaka.

A Coy and 39 Armoured Engineer Squadron have relocated three command posts for various units in Helmand province since arriving in April:

We’ve been able to make a lot of progress for the amount of time we’ve been here,” said Serjeant Ireland. “It’s due to the massive effort of our guys. They worked harder and more efficiently than we could’ve imagined, and as a result we’ve accomplished more than we thought we’d be able to.

Captain Cooper added:

The new command post is part of the overall objective of establishing a secure nation in which the people can prosper. Every day we’re working to increase the security of the areas we patrol and support the local Afghan population. Slowly but surely we’re making it easier for them to live their lives.

* The spelling of sergeant with a ‘j’ is a military tradition peculiar, in the British Army, to The Rifles.

Published 11 August 2011