Story by Sgt. J.R. Fisher
Photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Davies
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (August 7, 2012) – Members of the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, cleared an insurgent safe haven with the help of four of their own helicopters in Shinwar district, July 25.
During the mission, commandos used four Afghan Mi-17 helicopters to increase speed and efficiency of the operation. This is the first time Afghanistan has used its own dedicated Special Operations air assets to infiltrate an area and conduct a mission without U.S. forces on the ground.
“The Commandos are motivated and have proven time and again that they can conduct these missions as a single entity,” said Lt. Col. William Linn, Special Operations Task Force East Commander. “The implementation of their air assets demonstrates the great strides they’ve made in reaching the level of proficiency needed to suppress insurgent activities throughout Afghanistan.”
Linn also explained the area surrounding the compounds where this operation took place contained dense vegetation, along with terraced farm lands. The Mi-17, while large enough to hold more than an entire commando platoon, can also navigate through such terrain with speed and efficiency.
This historic mission implemented the helicopters as troop carriers, bringing the commandos to the Dagah Village, where they cleared specific areas of interest which contained a number of suspected insurgent compounds.
While the use of the Mi-17s made the event unique, it’s not what made it a milestone for the 1st Commando Kandak.
“This mission, and several others leading up to it, is definitive evidence that Afghan Special Operations Forces have what it takes to unilaterally plan and execute missions without direct tactical support from the U.S.” said a Special Forces team leader. “The men of 1st Special Operations Kandak have planned and conducted several highly successful unilateral missions resulting in the capture of key enemy leaders with no U.S. presence during the mission. Now, they’ve included the Mi-17 and we’re merely observers.”
The operation was launched to disrupt insurgents who have been running multiple narcotics processing laboratories, while threatening villagers through intimidation tactics and roadside bombs.
Commandos disrupted the insurgent networks in the area and uncovered hidden military equipment used by suspected insurgents.
“While the commandos take a lot of pride in their mission, the use of the Mi-17 air assets significantly elevates the force’s capability,” said Linn. “This operation was perfectly executed with absolutely no casualties or collateral damage.”
Separately, Commandos from 3rd Company, 5th Special Operations Kandak, conducted a clearing operation in Kunduz province, Aug. 3. Commandos, with coalition advisors, disrupted the insurgents’ offensive capability in the area and detained five individuals of interest. During the mission, the Commandos cleared Torba Kash Village, which has been a staging point for attacks against the Afghan Local Police in the region. The Commandos also conducted key leader engagements to talk to the villagers about their concerns. Villagers reported that insurgent intimidation has dropped since the ALP checkpoint was established in the village, according to coalition advisors.
Sgt. Bethany L. Little contributed to this report.
Commandos from 1st Special Operations Kandak brief their first unilateral mission with the Mi-17 helo, J