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with metal shrapnel being prepared. The They were on the back foot and unable specialists in high-altitude, winter off guard. “When you think of Burns, I narrow it
bombs will harm no-one now. They were to cope throughout.” warfare. It is an unforgiving place. The fundamentalists offered limited down to one word: passion. Passion for
destroyed by the Royals. The next success fell to X-Ray: 400kg “With limited resupply and basic living resistance as the troops swept all he did in life,” he explained.
The destruction of the substantial of raw opium and a massive cache of conditions, Kajaki looks like the fi nal systematically through the series of farm “He has been described as a poet of
cache was the last act of Lion, an chemicals used to make heroin. frontier,” said 45’s Lt Simon Williamson buildings and compounds. the poor, an advocate for political and
operation which received praise from For most of the morning, Yankee RN. By the time the three-day search was social change, an opponent of slavery,
commando leaders in Afghanistan. Company had been biding their time in It is not the fi nal frontier. For there complete, detonators for makeshift pomposity and greed – all causes very
“Yankee Company executed this reserve. They did not disappoint. is land beyond Zeebrugge, land in part bombs, anti-personnel mines, sacks of much supported by UN resolutions,
dangerous operation with cunning, But to reach their objective, Yankee dominated by the Taleban who have home-made explosives, rocket-propelled the reasons why we are in Afghanistan
determination and bravery,” said 45’s had to subdue enemy forces. driven most of the local populace away grenades, AK47s and ammunition had today.”
CO Lt Col Jim Morris. “We were 200 metres away from the and who had built a command complex been seized. Ah yes, the reason why. Tennyson’s
“It was a great success with a first compounds and had just climbed to the north of the dam. “This was a deliberately bold immortal phrase.
signifi cant haul of weapons, ammunition on to high ground when an RPG buzzed We use the pluperfect tense operation,” stressed Maj Neil Willson, 42 The men on the ground know ‘the
and explosives removed from Taleban over our heads, fired by a guy who just deliberately. The insurgents had a Cdo’s Chief-of-Staff. reason why’. They are in no doubt that
hands. Sangin is more stable as a came out of an alleyway,” said Capt Olly headquarters near Kajaki. Today they “We dictate the pace of operations in their efforts are making a difference –
result.” Osborne, 9 Troop Fire Support Group, have neither headquarters nor head this area – and the insurgents know this. and that the Taleban pose a clear and
3 Commando Brigade CO Brig Gordon Yankee Company. thanks to a stealthy strike by Victor. They are constantly behind the game as present danger.
Messenger added: “The successes of Sniper fire, heavy and light machine- The company crept out of Zeebrugge we emerge from the Afghan winter. But they’re not convinced Britons
Operation Lion are not unusual. Day in, guns, SA80s and the 30mm cannon of under cover of darkness one night, a “As ever, the Marines conducted back home understand, as one young
day out, our troops are on the ground, an Apache gunship were all brought to bitter wind striking their faces. They themselves with clinical restraint, green beret pointed out to CINC Fleet,
working with the local population, bear on the insurgents who fled or lay jinked, crawled and snuck through the respecting the local civilian populace’s Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, when he
focused on getting inside the enemy’s dead on the field of battle. Kajaki terrain with night as their blanket, pattern of life. This success is entirely visited Afghanistan last month.
mind, disrupting him where he least To the victor, the spoils: a multi-million taking up positions in the Taleban’s down to their professionalism. Another “You hear all about Gaza at the
expects it and denying him the freedom pound drugs factory which stunned the ‘backyard’ – undetected – before dawn. signifi cant success for the ‘smiley boys’ moment – why don’t the public want to
of movement that he seeks.” commandos. With the fi rst rays of light came the of 42 Commando.” know about Afghanistan?” the marine
The scale of Lion was eclipsed by “We found ten or 15 barrels of wet fi rst thunder of the guns – machine-guns, protested. “That’s our war.”
a five-day offensive unleashed early opium cooking – the most I’ve ever mortars, artillery, air strikes – which kept
But in Lashkar Gah…
It is. And there is a direct link between
in February, Operation Diesel – one seen. I’ve not seen it on this scale the foe pinned down in his trenches. what happens in the poppy fi elds and
of the largest aviation-led assaults by before,” said a breathless Mne Jake And then the killer blow. Two precision NO BOMBS, no machine-guns, no labyrinthine complexes of Helmand and
commandos since they struck at the McEndoo, Yankee Company. bombs smack bang on the command explosions, just Burns in the hub of the streets of the UK.
Al Faw peninsula in Iraq one March “The operation was exciting and bunkers. British operations in Helmand. “There is a very clear connection,
morning in 2003. definitely one to remember.” When the dust settled and the The Royals could not let the 250th fostering terrorists in Afghanistan,
More than 700 men were committed Lt Col Morris certainly thinks so. The commandos moved in they found among anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s feeding terrorists in the UK,” said
to Diesel – 42 and 45 Commandos, the drugs destroyed would have been worth the dead a Taleban leader. favourite son pass without a traditional Admiral Stanhope.
Brigade Reconnaissance Force, plus more than £50m once processed and “This is a signifi cant blow to the supper. “We are a force for our good – UK plc’s
the armoured infantry of 1 Battalion shipped out of Afghanistan. Taleban which will disrupt their ability Most Scots in the Corps, good. It’s all about dealing with issues at
Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. “The disruption of the enemy and to co-ordinate future attacks in Kajaki,” understandably, serve with Arbroath- range rather than on our streets.
They struck at Sapwan Qualeh in the his infrastructure in this action will said Victor’s operations offi cer Capt based 45 Commando. But not all. And “The British public are very much
Upper Sangin Valley with the expressed contribute directly to the gradually- Paul Forrest. Royal will seize any excuse to have a alongside our troops, it’s just that they
aim of striking at the Taleban’s drug improving security situation in the Upper “It should also send a powerful knees up, irrespective of his nationality. don’t understand what they’re doing.
trade. Sangin Valley. message to them that their roadside As it was there were 50 Servicemen We try to get the message across better,
Just after midnight on February 7,
“As ever, it was the bravery, bombs and threats against the local
and women sitting down for a Burns
try to expose the incredible deeds they
RAF Chinooks, RN Sea Kings and Lynx
determination and skill of the men and populace will not be tolerated.”
Night dinner of haggis, neeps (turnips),
are doing.”
and US CH53 Sea Stallions delivered
women on the ground that delivered
tatties (potatoes) and all the trimmings
The admiral is one of two RN VIPs
more than 500 green berets to three
this success. I am immensely proud of
And at Kandahar...
(but no whisky) at Task Force Helmand
to drop in on Senior Servicemen and
innocuous-sounding landing sites –
them all.”
HQ in Camp Bastion.
women this month (Second Sea Lord
Oak, Willow and Cherry – all within 800 A THREE-day swoop by a combined Dinner was served with the lines of Vice Admiral Alan Massey was the other).
metres of the enemy. Meanwhile in the hills RM-Canadian-US-Afghan battlegroup Burns’ Address to a Haggis echoing To CINC Fleet, it’s not just important that
‘Lightning’ Lima Company, 42 caught Taleban forces off guard and led around the mess – the fi rst of many the Navy’s leaders are seen on the front-
Commando, scored the first major
above Kajaki...
to a substantial haul of weapons falling recitals of the poet’s work on the
line but crucial to the critical decisions
success: two drug dens in a chain of THE Upper Sangin valley is not 45’s into Allied hands. evening (accompanied by some dubious they must make.
compounds. outermost frontier. That dubious Commandos of Lima Company, 42 Scottish accents). “You cannot get a feel to make some
The Royals uncovered vats, presses distinction belongs to Forward Operating Commando, led British participation in Diners decided (bizarrely) that Dane of the decisions you have to make
and bags, plus 60kg of wet opium Base Zeebrugge, 4,000ft above the Operation Shahi Tandar (Royal Storm) Maj Filip Nielsen of the 1st Jutland unless you know what is going on here,”
waiting to be processed. It never will Helmand River, watching over the Kajaki alongside 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Dragoons Regiment gave the fi nest
he stressed.
be. hydro-electric dam. Regiment, the Afghan National Army and example of a Scottish brogue on the
“You can read all you like and
Thanks to a series of feints, the Royals “Defence of the hydro-electric station 2-2 Infantry US Army. night.
get briefed to death, but it’s only by
could hear the chatter of Taleban fire is a task of strategic importance,” Lima led the assault, ‘Chinooked’ to the Accent, of course, was not as
being here that you see what’s being
attacking phantom Allied forces. stressed 45’s CO Lt Col Morris. edge of a series of Taleban compounds important as the message – a message
delivered, how it’s being delivered, see
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said “The power it produces is vital for in the district of Zhari Panjwayi. which organiser C/Sgt Douggie Lamont,
the conditions and see the issues, then
Lima’s Sgt Tony Dryden. sustaining the livelihoods of the Afghan The helicopter assault – and the Royals’ from Dumfries and Galloway, believes
you can go home and do something
“The Taleban were confused and people in Helmand and Kandahar.” rapid regrouping once disembarked remains relevant in the more than 200
about it.”
completely overmatched by our tactics. It is home to Victory Company, from the Chinooks – caught the enemy years after Burns’ death. With thanks to Ian Carr, Focus Magazine
our war
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