News story

Six-hour fight disrupts Taliban meeting

Lance Corporal Roberts is a Section Second-in-Command in 4 Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (3 MERCIAN). He is currently…

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Lance Corporal Roberts is a Section Second-in-Command in 4 Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (3 MERCIAN). He is currently based at Check Point Attal on Route 601, the main road to Lashkar Gah. He has previously served in Iraq, but this is his first tour of Afghanistan.

Recently 4 Platoon have been involved in operations alongside multiples (half-platoons) from the Royals Scots Dragoon Guards (SCOTS DG) and 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

As the harvests draw to a close in Helmand, ISAF forces in Afghanistan have been witnessing a spike in insurgent hostilities, and this has been no less true of Lance Corporal Roberts’ Area of Operations (AO).

In his blog, Lance Corporal Roberts explained that 4 Platoon have been continuing to push into new areas and take the fight to the insurgents in their own back yard, thus securing the AO and furthering the ongoing mission to provide security to the local population.

Lance Corporal Roberts explains what happened in one recent mission. He said:

We were going about our daily routine of patrolling and, as is often the case, we received intelligence and an order from Battle Group Headquarters to conduct a strike operation onto an insurgent shura [meeting].

The shura involved up to 60 insurgents to the south of Check Point (CP) Yaklang, in an otherwise unpatrolled area. At 1000hrs Lance Corporal Roberts and his multiple departed and were dropped 4km short of their objective - the location of the shura:

With temperatures reaching 47 degrees, and with 65kg of kit per man, the going was tough,” Lance Corporal Roberts said.

As we advanced on foot towards the objective, atmospherics changed with every step. I distinctly remember turning to the Boss, Lieutenant Cook, and saying ‘being point man is the loneliest place on earth’, to be greeted by a wry, knowing smile.

As we pushed on, the insurgent scouting screen was out in force, watching our every step from 1.5 to 2km away, tracking and feeding back our movements. My team went firm on a built-up natural defence line, giving overwatch as another multiple pushed past.

From this position Lance Corporal Roberts and his team tracked five men taking up positions around the northern extremity of the shura, with one moving from man to man relaying last minute orders - indicating an insurgent team commander:

However, it was too late and the multiple was already in front of Lance Corporal Roberts and his team. The silence was broken by the inevitable crack and thump of the insurgents hastily-laid ambush roaring to life:

As the exposed multiple dived for cover, the arcs opened once again, allowing me and the sharpshooter to both accurately suppress the insurgents.

The fighting continued for six more hours, with the insurgents occupying firing points to our north, south, east and west:

We were effectively surrounded,” said Lance Corporal Roberts.

But in the exchange of fire his multiple successfully suppressed the insurgents and prepared to return to their CP:

As we prepared to extract, I witnessed the most amazing spectacle to date: two American A-10 tank busters doing a show-of-force, thundering flyby 50m overhead, giving the insurgents the fright of their lives and the lads at our location something to really cheer about.

Finally, on our extraction, after calling for emergency close air support, we got an Apache on station overhead. Loaded with a 30mm gun and Hellfire missiles, it created a good incentive for any remaining insurgents - who had so effectively boxed us in all day - not to mess with us anymore.

Thanks to the hard work from all the men on the ground the mission was successful, the enemy shura was disrupted, and the troops had punched into the heart of insurgent territory, further diminishing their numbers:

We extracted a casualty with a broken ankle (a lad who fell on the way out) and survived for a prolonged period with limited supplies and no chance of a resupply; a true testament to the professionalism and tenacious character of the British Army,” Lance Corporal Roberts concluded.

To read more blogs from Lance Corporal Roberts and other Service personnel currently deployed to Afghanistan, see Related Links.

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Published 24 June 2011