Fighting the Taliban and Insurgents
The previous page was: "45 Commando Helmand"
45-cdo-Helmand: The Upper Sangin valley is not 45's outermost frontier. That dubious distinction belongs to Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge, 4,000ft above the Helmand River, watching over the Kajaki hydro-electric dam.
"Defence of the hydro-electric station is a task of strategic importance," Stressed 45 Commando's Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Morris. "The power it produces is vital for sustaining the livelihoods of the Afghan people in Helmand and Kandahar."
It is home to Victory Company, Specialists in high-altitude, winter warfare. It is an unforgiving place. "With limited re-supply and basic living conditions, Kajaki looks like the final frontier," said 45's Lieutenant Simon Williamson RN.
45 Commando Helmand
Part dominated by the Taliban
It is not the final frontier because there is land beyond Zeebrugge; land in part dominated by the Taliban who have driven most of the local populace away and who had built a command complex to the north of the dam.
We use the pluperfect tense deliberately. The insurgents had a headquarters near Kajaki. Today they have neither headquarters' nor head leader thanks to a stealthy strike by Victor.
The company crept out of the Forward Operating Base of Zeebrugge under the cover of darkness one night. A bitter wind striking their faces; they jinked, crawled and snuck through the Kajaki terrain with night as their blanket, taking up positions in the Taliban's 'back yard'-undetected-before dawn.
With the rays of light came the first thunder of guns, mortars, artillery, air strikes-which kept the foe pinned down in his trenches. And then the killer blow.
Two precision bombs smack bang on their command bunkers. When the dust had settled and the commandos moved in, they found among the dead a Taliban leader.
A significant blow to the Taliban
"This is a significant blow to the Taliban which will disrupt their ability to co-ordinate future attacks in Kajaki," said Victor's operations officer Captain Paul Forrest. "It should send a powerful message to them that their roadside bombs and threats against the local populace will not be tolerated."
No bombs, no explosions or machine-guns,
45-cdo-Helmand; No bombs, no explosions or machine-guns, just Burns. The Commandos could not let the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's favourite son pass without a traditional supper.
Most Scots in the Corps. understandably, serve with the Arbroath-based 45 Commando Royal Marines. But not all; and the Commandos will seize any excuse to have a knees up, irrespectively of his nationality.
As it was there were 50 Servicemen and women sitting down to a Burns Night dinner of haggis, neeps (turnips), Tatties (potatoes), and all of the trimmings (but no whisky) at Task Force Helmand Headquarters.
Dinner was served to the lines of Burns' address to a haggis echoing around the mess-the first of many rituals of the poet's work on the evening (accompanied by some dubious Scottish accents).
Diners decided (bizarrely) that Dane Major Filip Nielson of the 1st Jutland Dragoons Regiment gave the finest example of a Scottish brogue on the night.
Accent, of course, was not as important as the message-a message which organiser Colour-Sergeant Douggie Lamont, from Dumfries and Galloway, believes remains relevant in the more than 200 years after Burns' death.
When you think of Burns
"when you think of Burns, I narrow it down to one word: passion. Passion for all he did in life," he explained. He has described as a poet of the poor, an advocate for political and social change, an opponent of slavery, much supported by UN resolutions, the reasons we are in Afghanistan today."
Ah yes, the reason why. Tennyson's immortal phase.
The men on the ground know 'the reasons why'. They are in no doubt that their efforts are making a difference-and that the Taliban pose a clear and present danger.
But they are not convinced that Britons back home understand, as one green beret pointed out to Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, when he visited Afghanistan in February 2009.
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Senior Servicemen and women
"You hear all about Gaza and the Israelis at the moment-why don't the public want to know about Afghanistan?" the Marine protested. "That's our war."
It is. And there is a direct link between what happens in the poppy fields and labyrinthine complexes of Helmand and the streets of the UK.
"There is a very clear connection, fostering terrorists in Afghanistan, feeding terrorists in the UK," said Admiral Stanhope. "We are a force for our good-UK plc's good. It's all about dealing with issues at range rather than on our streets. The British public are very much along side our troops. it's just that they don't understand what they're doing."
The Admiral is one of two RN VIPs to drop in on Senior Servicemen and women this month (Second Sea Lord Vice-Admiral Alan Massey was the other).
The next Link below will be: "45 Commando Lion"
45 Commando Helmand
45 Commando Lion
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