Royal Marines - Afghanistan
2001 Operation Veritas
Op Veritas is the codename for UK military operations in Afghanistan (later also named Op Herrick and Op Fingal).
40 Commando (40 Cdo), fresh from exercise in Oman, onboard HMS Fearless, acted as a contingency force for initial allied ground operations in Afghanistan. They were not actively deployed into Afghanistan.
April-July 2002 - Operation Jacana
Op Jacana is the codename for a series of operations carried out by 45 Commando Group in Afghanistan.
45 Commando Group consisted of :
- 45 Cdo
- 3 Cdo Bde's Brigade Patrol Troop
- 7 (Sphinx) Commando Battery Royal Artillery
- 59 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers
- a detachment from from the Commando Logistics Regiment
- RAF 27 Squadron (Chinook helicopters)
OP Jacana includes the following operations : Op Ptarmigan, Op Snipe, Op Condor and Op Buzzard.
April 2002 - Operation Ptarmigan
45 Commando Group deployed to Afghanistan via Bagram Airport. Their first operation, Op Ptarmigan, consisted of clearing high mountain valleys, searching for Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces. 45 Cdo had been chosen for this op due to their expertise in high-altitude warfare.
May 2002 - Operation Snipe
45 Cdo Group Royal Marines, assisted by Afghani forces, searched an area in the mountainous South East of Afghanistan. Whilst quantities of weapons and explosives were discovered in various cave networks, no major contact with Taliban or Al Qaeda forces occurred.
May 2002 - Operation Condor
45 Cdo reinforced Australian Special Air Service (SASR) troops in the mountains of Paktia province. 45 Cdo sweep the area, clearing it of enemy forces.
May to July 2002 - Operation Buzzard
45 Cdo and Afghani troops patrol the Khowst region of south east Afghanistan.
2006 to Present - Operation Herrick
February 2006 - 42 Cdo deploy to Helmand Province as part of NATO efforts to stabilize Afghanistan in the midst of a resurgent Taliban. 42 Cdo were to secure the area around Lashkar Gar whilst infrastructure was installed by RAF and Army engineers for the forthcoming deployment by 16 Air Assault Brigade. The Marines engaged in frequent firefights with the Taliban. By April, 16 AA Bde were fully deployed and began efforts to bring security to the region.
Later in 2006, 3 Commando Brigade, incorporating 42 Cdo took over from 16 AA Bde, with the bulk of RM forces deploying in later September. The Brigade carried on 16 AA Bde's mission of securing and holding strategic points such as Lashkar Gar, the town of Garmsir, and various district centers. Aggressive patrols were carried out to try and flush out the Taliban.
Part of 3 Cdo Bde's tour of Afghanistan included Op Silica, in which K Coy, 42 Cdo relived 2 Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers at the town of Now Zad.
October 2006 to April 2007
45 Commando were deployed to Helmand Province.to act as rapid reaction force for the multi-national Provincial Reconstruction Teams and to establish the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT). The OLMT worked closely with indigenous Afghan National Army (ANA) forces, carrying out training tasks and joint operations against the Taliban.
In early January, 2007, M Coy, 42 Cdo fought a hard battle to take control of a hydroelectric dam at Kajaki. The Marines had established a forward operating base (FOB Kajaki) in the area in December. Before the operation to clear the area around Kajaki, the Commandos established further observation posts high in the mountains overlooking the area from where HMG and sniper fire could be brought down on the enemy. M Coy conducted a series of clearances of a number of cave complexes. They later cleared nearby compounds. Engineers built a permanent vehicle checkpoint (PVCP). Over the coming weeks, sporadic Taliban attacks continued to prevent the Dam from from operating.
Operation Glacier I
On 15th January, Z Coy, 45 Cdo, supported by the BRF, Light Dragoons, engineers and artillery units, assaulted the Taliban-held Jugroom Fort. 45 Cdo crossed the Helmand river close to the fort, traveling in Viking APCs before debussing to engage the Taliban on foot. A fierce firefight ensued and the Marines withdrew. Once back across the river, it was discovered that a fellow Marine, Lance Corporal Ford, was missing. A daring rescue mission was launched. Lacking appropriate light helicopter support for the task, the Marines strapped themselves to the wings of 2 Army Air Corps Apache gunships. The 2 WAH-64 helicopters, covered by a third, flew over the battlefield and landed within the walls of the fort. The 4 Commandos, assisted by members of the Apache flight crew, moved out on foot and found Lance Corporal Ford, who had sadly passed away. All members of the rescue force, along with their fallen comrade, were then flown out of the area.
watch video of the dramatic rescue mission
On 11th January, the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), supported by the Light Dragoons, engaged a Taliban compound south of Garmsir BRF WMIKs and sniper teams took up positions from where they could engage the compounds. Air strikes from fast jets and Apache helicopter gunships were called in which destroyed the buildings.
Op Volcano carried on from Op Clay. In early February, M Coy, 42 Cdo assaulted and cleared Taliban compounds at Barikju in an attempt to secure the area around the Kajaki dam.
watch video of Operation Volcano
In early April, J Coy, 42 Cdo took part in Op Silver, a multi-national offensive to clear the Taliban from in and around the town of Sangin. Op Silver was part of a wider NATO effort, known as Operation Achilles, designed to clear Taliban forces from Helmand.
watch video of Operation Achilles
In April 2007, 12 Mechanized Brigade took over from 3 Commando Brigade in Helmand.
40 Commando deployed as part of 52 Infantry brigade. 40 Cdo carried out numerous patrols around various villages in Helmand, often working closely with Afghan National Army (ANA) troops.
40 Cdo supported 52 Brigade's push towards the Taliban stronghold in Musa Qaleh. Using Viking APCs, the Commandos engaged several Taliban positions, drawing enemy forces away from the town.
40 Cdo continued to play a significant role in ANA/ISAF efforts to oust the Taliban from Musa Qaleh which culminated in a successful operation, led by Afghani Troops, with the town declared under friendly control on the 12th Of December.
Much of 40 Cdo's activities in the New Year centered around the crucial Kajaki dam. The Marines fought regular battles in continuing efforts to dislodge the Taliban from various compounds surrounding the dam. On Jan 8th, C Coy, 40 Cdo conducted their first amphibious operations in landlocked Afghanistan. Using assault boats, the Marines crossed the reservoir of the Kajaki Dam on a reconnaissance mission. They identified several Taliban positions before withdrawing under the cover of darkness.
view news report of C Coy's amphibious operation at Kajaki
Operation Ghartse Dagger
On Febuary 18th, B Coy, 40 Cdo + attached units (forming the Mobile Operations Group) took part in an operation to reach the town of Sapwan Kala. Part of the operation involved a feint designed to decieve the Taliban into beleiving the Marines were about to move to the area around the Kajaki dam. This deception allowed then to enter Sapwan Kala and establish contact with the local population. As the Marines pulled out of the town, the Fire Support Group (FSG), stationed on high ground overlooking the operation, came under Taliban fire and a contact ensued.
view news report of Op Ghartse Dagger
40 Cdo returned to the UK after completing their tour in Afghanistan.