Military.com editor Ward Carroll and managing editor Christian Lowe are currently embedded with American troops in eastern Afghanistan. This despatch was published in military.com (who retain copyright) on 21st May 2010
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSHMORE -- It took elements of First Platoon, Angel Company, 3-187, an hour to navigate a convoy of MRAPs across 10 miles of bumpy dirt road between the Combat Outpost at Yosef Khel to the village of Mest. And that slow ride was considered a good commute by infantry standards -- no IEDs hit; no RPGs fired at them, and no small-arms contact with the enemy.
MARINE TONY EVANS
MARINE GEORGIE SPARKS
J COMPANY 42 COMMANDO
The Ministry of Defence confirmed the deaths of Marine Tony Evans and Marine Georgie Sparks, both of J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines.
The men had been conducting a foot patrol to the north-west of Lashkar Gar in Helmand Province. Marines Evans and Sparks had moved on to the roof of a compound when, at around 9am, there was an attack by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and they were badly wounded. Both received immediate medical attention and were moved to a secure location before being put on a helicopter to be transferred back to Camp Bastion. However, both sadly died from their injuries during the flight.
The Secretary of State for Defence (The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP): The significant increase in the number of international troops in southern Afghanistan is enabling commanders to make improvements in the laydown and command arrangements of coalition forces in the region. The first of these was the handover of security responsibility for Musa Qaleh district in Helmand province from UK to US troops on 27 March. This transfer allowed UK troops in Musa Qaleh to be redeployed to the population centres of central Helmand where they have increased ISAF's capacity to protect the Afghan civilian population from the threat posed by the insurgency, and to train and partner with the Afghan National Security Forces.
Trooper James Munday
It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence confirms the death of Trooper James Munday, of 1 Troop, D Squadron, The Household Cavalry Regiment. Please see the eulogy below and attached photograph.
On 15th October, Trooper Munday was serving as a Jackal driver on Operation HERRICK 8 when he was killed in action in Helmand province. His Troop was conducting a routine patrol approximately 23km north of Forward Operating Base Delhi when he was killed by a contact explosion.
Despite the best efforts of the medical team, sadly, Trooper Munday was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other soldiers were also injured in the blast.
The two troops that lost their life over the weekend of 12-14th September have been named as Lance Corp Nicky Mason and Private Jason Lee Rawstron.
Lance Corporal Mason,26, a soldier from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, died on Saturday 13 September 2008 whilst on a routine patrol near Kajaki, in Helmand province as a result of an explosion, the cause of which is being investigated.
Since the 11th May the United States has carried out three unmanned airstrikes:
15th May: US Predators fired missiles at a Taliban compound and "two truckloads of militants" in the first recorded airstrike with Pakistan's Khyber tribal agency. Between 5 and 15 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack, but none were reported to be senior figures. The location of the attack also remains unclear.
21st May: Unmanned aircraft fired four missiles at a Taliban compound in the village of Mohammed Khel, North Waziristan. Reports suggest that between 6 and 10 'terrorists' were killed in the attack. Initially it remained unclear if the casualties were al Qaida, Taliban or other Jihadists operating in the area. No senior figures were reported killed at the time. However on the 31st May As Sahab, al Qaida's propaganda arm, released statement confirming that its chief finance official Mustafa Abu Yazid was killed in the strike. Yazid is considered one of al Qaida's most senior figures. He served as al Qaida's leader in Afghanistan and was identified by the 9/11 Commission as its "chief financial manager." This would have made him responsible for the distribution of funds from al Qaida's treasury.
Earlier Wednesday, a NATO helicopter providing support to British troops in southern Afghanistan was shot down by Taliban gunners, and military officials said all four American crewmen aboard were killed.
The deaths brought the number of American service members killed in Afghanistan to at least 19 this month, according to icasualties.org, a nongovernmental Web site that tracks war fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Sapper Ishwor Gurung was born in Pokhara, Nepal on 15 October 1988. Having passed selection for the Brigade of Gurkhas in Pokhara on 14 December 2007, he went on to complete initial infantry training in Catterick, North Yorkshire and Combat Engineer training at the Royal School of Military Engineering in Minley. He was subsequently posted to 69 Gurkha Field Squadron, part of 36 Engineer Regiment in Maidstone Kent and trained as a Bricklayer and Concreter.
Sapper Ishwor spent the last year preparing for this, his first operational tour. This included a large scale construction exercise in Devon and mission specific training in Ripon North Yorkshire. He excelled throughout these activities, proving not only his burgeoning professional knowledge but his keen desire to deploy on operations in Afghanistan. He was an outstanding sportsman and had represented 36 Engineer Regiment in Divisional cross country competitions and boxed for his Squadron.
Rifleman Remand Kulung, from G (Tobruk) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) attached to the Danish Battlegroup, died on 12 August 2010 of wounds received in Afghanistan .
In the early hours of 10 August 2010 a Chinook helicopter was conducting a resupply at Patrol Base BAHADUR. Part of the helicopter came into contact with the sangar from which Rifleman Remand was carrying out sentry duty.
The sangar collapsed and Rifleman Remand sustained serious injuries and was evacuated to Bastion Role 3 hospital before subsequently being moved to the United Kingdom for further treatment.
Sapper Darren Foster of 21 Engineer Regiment was killed on Friday 13 August 2010.
At 0653hrs on 13 August 2010, whilst manning a sangar in order to provide security to his colleagues in Patrol Base Sangin Fulod, Sapper Darren Foster was engaged by small arms fire and suffered a gunshot wound.
He received medical treatment on site and was evacuated by helicopter to the Bastion Role 3 Hospital where he died of his wounds.
Sapper Darren Foster, aged 20, originally from Whitehaven, Cumbria, enlisted into the Royal Engineers on 22 September 2008. After completing basic training he qualified as a combat engineer and subsequently as a military fabricator. He joined 21 Engineer Regiment, based in Ripon, on 18 May 2010.
An occasional series highlighting longer reports and features on Afghanistan which we think are worth a read.
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U.S hopes Afghan councils will weaken Taliban
Lieutenant John Charles Sanderson of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) [1 MERCIAN], attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle Group, died on Wednesday 11 August 2010 of wounds sustained in Afghanistan.
Lt Sanderson was wounded in an explosion whilst on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on 13 July 2010.
He was treated at the scene before being flown to the UK for further treatment. On Wednesday 11 August 2010, surrounded by his family, he finally succumbed to his injuries.
Lt Sanderson was born in Oklahoma USA on 23 April 1981. He was educated at Bradfield College and Exeter University where he read history and was a member of the University Officer Training Corps.
House of Commons Library new research paper 10/45: The 'Afpak policy' and the Pashtuns
A year's deployment in Afghanistan : One U.S. battalion's story
Corporal Barry Dempsey
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed today that Corporal Barry Dempsey, a medic from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, attached to 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment, was killed on patrol in Afghanistan on Monday 18 August 2008.
In a statement, the MoD offered tributes from comrades and senior officers. Lieutenant Colonel Nick Borton said that Cpl Dempsey "was a stalwart of the Medical Centre; a hard worker, he always volunteered for any task, and was always at the centre of the team, motivating and encouraging the younger medics." Lieutenant Colonel Ed Freely praised Cpl Dempsey's "great humility and character", whilst Defence Secretary Des Browne said that Cpl Dempsey was a "selfless and brave professional".
Signaller Wayne Bland
On 11th August, the Ministry of Defence announced the death in Afghanistan of a soldier from 16 Signal Regiment Motor Transport Troop, named on 14th August as Signaller Wayne Bland. Sig. Bland died whilst on patrol in Kabul as a result of a suicide attack upon the vehicle he was travelling in.
In a statement, the MoD presented tributes from comrades and senior officers who served with Sig. Bland in Operation Herrick ("popular and capable", "a leader amongst his peers"), and from the Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne ("a model British soldier").
The full statement can be viewed at the Ministry of Defence website.
Not just for those who have sadly lost their lives in service. Good news from the MoD that they are double compensation for troops injured and disabled in combat.
On the 9th June a NATO helicopter providing support to British troops in Afghanistan was shot down by Taliban forces. The deaths of four American crewmen took the number of U.S. casualties for the month to 19 servicemen. What was already proving to be a bad month for the United States and its partners has since then got much worse.
The British and Australian Governments have today announced plans to re-bury the World War One dead found at a mass grave in Fromelles, France, last month.
The soldiers from the two countries, believed to number up to 400, will be re-buried in individual graves in a new cemetery that will be built on the site of, or as close as possible to, the mass grave by Pheasants Wood on the edge of Fromelles. The exhumation and re-interment will be carried out under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A timescale for the work to recover the remains will be announced later this year.
Together, the United Kingdom, the United States and our allies around the world, face a difficult security environment, where the outlook is sobering and the threats diverse, growing and unpredictable.
We live in a period in which direct military threats to our countries' territories are low.
But in this globalised world, the scourge of terrorism, the danger of nuclear proliferation, the ungoverned space created by fragile or failed states, and the competition for energy and resources, will test our ability to deter, contain and deal with risks to national security.
Suicide bombers storm Afghan aid building, kill four
Pakistan Army struggling to root out Taliban
Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, a Royal Marine reservist, has been awarded one of the highest gallantry medals, the George Cross. Theer are only 20 other living holders of this recgnition of acts of heroism not in the face of the enemy.
(Alongside the Victoria Cross, the George Cross is the nation's highest bravery honour and is awarded for 'acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.'). He had thrown himself onto a booby trap grenade in Helmand, Afghanistan, to save his comrades.
Defence Viewpoints salutes the sung and unsung heroes, especially the fatalities, the injured and all who serve their country and pay a price. The Parliamentary Welcome Homes we report elsewhere are but a small recognition of bravery and sacrifice.
The International Security Assistance Force's strategy for defeating the improvised explosive device threat in Afghanistan can be characterised by three main elements - attacking the system, defeating the device and preparing the force.
Major General Gordon Messenger, the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategic Communications Officer, and Colonel Peter Smith, Assistant Director of Counter-IED at Land Forces Headquarters, reiterated that the IED menace is being countered through intelligence, training and equipment at a briefing to the media in MOD's Main Building on Thursday 1 July 2010.
Reminding the audience that while improvised explosive devices are far from a new phenomenon and that around 300 are found every month outside Iraq and Afghanistan, Major General Messenger said that it was in Afghanistan that their use had become 'unprecedented'.