Royal Marines Launch Amphibious Assault In Afghanistan

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  1. Royal Marines Launch Amphibious Assault In Afghanistan
    By Sky News SkyNews - Monday, January 7 08:04 am

    Royal Marines Commandos have launched the first ever amphibious assault by British troops in Afghanistan.

    Elite commandos used fibreglass assault boats to sneak behind enemy lines in Helmand during a daring night raid to recce Taliban positions last week.

    Armed with assault rifles, machine guns and sniper rifles, the marines from 40 Commando crawled within metres of the Taliban's rearguard sentries, after outflanking their defences on flat-bottom boats.

    The covert operation was ordered deep in the mountains of southern Afghanistan, where the fighting men from Charlie Company are guarding a hydroelectric power station.

    Apart from a few hundred metres of no-man's land immediately outside their camp, the marines were completely surrounded by Taliban fighters.

    Now, commanders hope the boats will help crush the insurgents' spirits.

    Captain Iain Sutherland, the mission second-in-command, said: "The fact that they can't determine where we are coming from and the fact they can't affect our movement is going to have a massive effect on their morale.

    "We can conduct our own amphibious operations, which enables us to open up more flanks and more areas which we can come at the enemy with - to surprise them."

    Fearless Ghurkhas attached to the commandos steered the landing craft across the icy reservoir in darkness, so marines could secure a desolate beachhead well behind the Taliban lines.

    Marine snipers then crept within metres of the insurgent's compounds to collect intelligence on their fire positions and defences.

    The Arctic-trained troops braved sub-zero temperatures in the mountains through the January night before extracting unseen by dawn.

    Capt Sutherland added: "Amphibious operations like this not only allow us to surprise the enemy from a different flank but also give us access to local nationals previously thought to be unreachable, which is key to the success of this ongoing operation.

    "Using unconventional and unexpected methods of movement, we can interact with more civilians as well as significantly disrupting the Taliban in our area, denying them freedom of movement."

    The Royal Marines specialise in storming beaches, but it was the first time they had used their amphibious role inside the landlocked country which is more than 700 miles from the nearest ocean.

    Capt Sutherland said: "Royal Marines Commandos are highly-trained amphibious troops, and it would be a shame to come to a theatre such as Afghanistan and never use those skills that we have trained long and hard for."

    The Mark 6 Assault boats are on loan from a detachment of Queens Ghurkha Engineers, based at Kajaki, who are also trying to refurbish an abandoned UN speedboat.

    They plan to mount a machine gun on the front sundeck of the Mercury Sugar Sands Calais, which comes complete with white leather seats and water-skiing cables. It was abandoned by aid workers when fighting engulfed the area.

    Major Steve Hart, Operations Officer of 40 Commando, paid tribute to the men of Charlie Company.

    He said: "Reconnaissance patrols both by land and water were carried out to ensure that we could get men ashore and into position, but the key to the success of the operation was, as ever, the courage and skill of the Royal Marines who took part."

    The man-made dam was built by the Russians in the 1950s to help irrigate the Helmand valley, where most of Afghanistan's opium is grown.

    The US built a power station at the foot of the dam in the 1970s to supply southern Afghanistan with electricity but it was seriously damaged during the fighting and reconstruction has stalled.

    The marines are guarding the dam which is waiting for a new turbine to supply southern Afghanistan with electricity.
  2. This sounds like a well organised operation made possible buy the skill and bravery of the Royals involved and the Ghurkhas. Possibly a step in the right direction. Well done 40 commando unit.
  3. Some daytime (posed) pictures on the DNI website. The boat looks to have an awfully low freeboard. In some it almost looks like the lads are crawling on water :D

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