11-12 July 2010
OP OMIDDU is the first operation of its kind in the history of modern Afghanistan. An entire operation planned and executed by the Afghan National Army (ANA) and I was lucky enough to be on it working with the first ANA C-IED team. This consists of Sgt Khan the operator, Pte Ahmed Khan, Amej Khan and one man so Mongolian looking everyone just called him Jackie Chan.
Khan means leader in many central Asian languages which I hope will be a portent for the future of this team!
The OP was simple in itself, as all good military plans should be. Get seven-hundred people, mostly ANA, to PB SAFIAN IVO YACKACHAN, via road, which is approx 40km North of Camp Bastion. Head south away from SAFIAN through a variety of compounds in an area which is sympathetic to insurgents (INS) and not ISAF. As the main body moves through the centre, soft knocking the dwellings, two screens flow down the East and West blocking any potential assaults.
The first day goes pretty much without incident; a few single shots fired at the ANA with no casualties taken and by close of play all objectives for the day are met. With no IEDs seeded by the enemy. The ANA stop out for the night to overwatch the areas they have covered today and are resupplied by the Viking Group.
ANA search a compound to find IED components for remote control devices (RC), tools, circuit boards, a remote doorbell known as an RFT device (Remote Fob Trigger), improvised dets and det cord and some Home Made Explosive (HME). This is coupled with a find of Russian mark fourteen grenades, 7.62 rounds and component parts from RPG rounds (Rocket Propelled Grenade).
The IED parts will allow us to gather forensic information on the maker and catch him and possibly others. The munitions find potentially reduces ISAF casualties. All of this whilst a Shura (village meeting) is being held to understand what the locals need from ISAF in this area.
We collapse the cordons and retire to PB SAFIAN to dem the finds. The INS are shocked and bewildered. Unable to believe the speed and force with which the ANA have been able to react over the last two days. Where have they come from and what are they doing? These are just some of the comments from a disjointed enemy over the ICOM.
The Brigade commander wishes to thank us for a very successful OP and under the auspice of the CO we are gathered together to receive his thanks before we depart back to Bastion. A resounding success and hopefully the first of many which will allow the Afghans, as is their right, to take charge of their country once again.
Written by Marc Woods