Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Operation Panther's Claw: Lt Col Doug Chalmers, CO 1st Battalion of the Welsh Guards
The Push up the Shamalan Canal - 25 June - 25 July 2009
Our battalion has responsibility for Battle Group Centre South which means we are responsible for the districts of Nad-E-Ali and Lashkah-Gar. HERRICK 10 has seen the area under the Government of Afghanistan’s control within these districts grow considerably.
Very early on in the tour a large ANA led Operation pushed the insurgents out of a town called Basharan and then kept them out. After a couple of days of fierce fighting the village was secured and has gone from strength to strength ever since. There is an increasing air of confidence in the village as they regain a sense of normality.
Within Nad-E-Ali District Centre the bazaar has continued to grow, with new shops opening every month. The residents, although still wary, have gained a degree of confidence in their future. They now believe us when we say that we are here to stay. Outside of the District Centre there is insurgent activity but it is been mitigated by joint ANA, ANP and ISAF patrols. The fact that the farmers continue to work their fields and deliver a considerable amount of produce that includes vegetables and melons, indicates that they too have sufficient confidence to stay and work their land.
Less than a month ago in one of the opening moves of Operation PANTHERS CLAW the ANP, assisted by the Prince of Wales’s Company, moved rapidly north and secured the town of Chah-E-Anjir. This is a large town that had effectively been under siege for over a year. The population is slowly gaining in confidence and we are starting to see the number of shops increase along with the variety of items for sale. It is early days but in several months it is likely to be at the same stage as the District Centre is today.
More recently the Battle Group fought up the Shamalan Canal to secure key crossings and prevent more insurgents flowing into the Babiji area. This has worked and at the moment the farmers that work around these check points have returned to their fields and started to interact with the ANA and ISAF Soldiers on the Canal.
These significant gains have been secured at a high cost in terms of lives and injuries to the Battle Group. But the sense of achievement is palpable and this does make the sacrifices easier to bear. We are now focused on deepening the confidence of the local residents in the areas that we have secured. They deserve a chance and we are giving it to them.