British and Afghan soldiers launched an airborne operation into an isolated area of Helmand province which they then swept for any insurgent activity.
Operation TORA GHAR, or ‘Courageous Mountain’, was conducted by soldiers from C Company (C Coy), 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR), and the Afghan National Army (ANA), flown into the western Dashte area, west of Nad ‘Ali district, on two Chinook helicopters.
The operation enabled the UK and Afghan forces to demonstrate to remaining insurgents the ability of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the ANA to strike at will.
It also allowed them to gain an understanding of the local terrain and the people who live in this desert area, which falls outside the influence of the Afghan Government.
The operation saw C Coy patrolling with the ANA through previously uncovered ground, focusing on major compound groupings in the area to meet with locals.
They found that the population had historically supported illegal narcotics production in order to survive.
Major Simon Doyle, Officer Commanding C Coy, 1 PWRR, said it was vital in a counter-insurgency campaign to understand the population - and that in the western Dashte there is a risk they could turn to the insurgency for governance. He said:
A major role for ISAF and ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] is to point villagers towards the legitimate government to stop insurgents gaining a foothold in the area.
What we and the ANA learned was that the people here were self-sustaining and to a large degree self-governing, which is a starting point for governance to build on.
The operation demonstrated ISAF and ANSF ability to operate freely across Nad ‘Ali district. This provides reassurance to the local national population and also contributes to growing uncertainty and fear amongst the remaining insurgents operating in the area.
Lieutenant Ian Thornton, Commander of 9 Platoon, C Coy, 1 PWRR, said:
We normally operate in the Green Zone where there is a lot of cultivated farmland.
The western Dashte is a more rugged environment where we can manoeuvre more freely and the opportunity to see a different part of Nad ‘Ali was great for the men.