Monday, February 25, 2008

ANSF, Coalition forces clear enemy stronghold in Helmand

Let me start this by saying a US commander that sent his men out in a ski mask would get beat down by the press. I Think the ANSF is going to be fine.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces, advised by Coalition forces, cleared Karez deh Baba and Kajaki in Helmand Province of insurgents and returned the area to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s control Feb. 20-22.Before the fall of Musa Qaleh, insurgents used these villages and the surrounding area as part of a supply line to move weapons and drugs into the city. Insurgents were using the villages to launch attacks on Musa Qaleh and the upper Sangin Valley.ANSF conducted operations to disrupt the insurgents’ ability to engage friendly forces with small-arms, rocket and indirect fire from the prepared fighting positions in the area in the first two days of fighting. Friendly forces also used precision air strikes.“Throughout the day, insurgents kept trying to fight the ANSF,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman. “The result was always the same … they defeated.”The ANSF spoke with the local populace to ensure they understood the purpose of the mission to restore security and to improve the civil infrastructure in the area. “We have been impressed by the efforts in Musa Qaleh and want the same for our village,” a local Afghan said.Other villagers said they will welcome ANSF and GIRoA’s leadership along with the security and stability they can provide. Villagers also provided crucial information about common insurgent practices and the locations of insurgent safehouses.“The insurgents were taxing everyone traveling and said they would tax our crops in the spring,” a local Afghan said. “Please establish a permanent ANSF presence to keep the insurgents from returning to the area.”The corpse of a tortured Afghan male was also discovered Wednesday.During the next day of fighting, ANSF-led forces deployed in smaller units when they observed insurgents moving into fighting positions to engage them. The ANSF rooted out the insurgents and cleared the position finding an improvised explosive device and a small arms cache. The enemy reinforced different fighting positions and engaged with indirect fire when the ANSF-led force renewed their assault. They found another small-arms and ammunition cache and destroyed both with precision guided munitions. Friendly forces found approximately 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate that was destroyed in another insurgent safehouse. “This was an enormous find because this substance is a common explosive additive that could be used in IEDs,” Bowman said. “The ANSF prevented future attacks and saved innocent civilians with this discovery.” The ANSF-led force eventually discovered the insurgents’ command center and a 100-foot deep interconnected tunnel system. The command center consisted of a series of caves and the tunnel was littered with spare ammunition and shell casings. The ANSF suppressed enemy forces in the immediate area before destroying the cave and tunnel system with precision guided munitions. “In the last three days, the Government of IRoA and ANSF saved numerous lives by capturing bomb-making materials,” Bowman said. “ANSF-led forces have maintained pressure on the Taliban to prevent them from accomplishing their goals of terrorizing and intimidating the Afghan populace.”

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