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Afghan commandos disrupt insurgent networks and reduce threat to ALP in Shonkrai Valley

By Maj. Cindi King , Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force

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KUNAR PROVINCE,Afghanistan (July 9, 2012) — Members of the 2nd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, cleared an insurgent safe haven in the Shonkrai valley, Khas Kunar district, during an operation advised by coalition special operations forces June 30 - July 1.

During the mission, 100 Afghan commandos and an element of coalition special operations forces’ advisers destroyed three insurgent fighting positions, reduced an improvised explosive device and discovered 30 pounds of high-grade ammonium nitrate.

“There was an armed pressure plate in the doorway to one of the buildings,” said a coalition special operations forces adviser. “Thankfully, it was diffused before it could kill anyone.”

The operation was launched to disrupt insurgents who have been setting up IEDs on roads along the Kunar River. There were also reports of insurgents harassing and kidnapping villagers in the area.

In less than two hours after entering the valley, the Afghan commandos began receiving automatic small arms fire from insurgents on a ridge who were occupying three fighting positions. They returned fire, killing all of the insurgents.

The commandos and special operations forces also destroyed the IED and bombmaking materials in place, to ensure they could not be used to harm innocent villagers.

“The Afghan commandos are extremely concerned about perceptions and ensuring no innocent civilians are harmed,” said the coalition special operations forces adviser. “This operation was executed perfectly and no villagers were injured, further legitimizing Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF] and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan [GIRoA].”

The 1st Kandak Commandos are the longest serving of the kandaks since their inception as a premier light infantry force in 2007. They were modeled after a U.S. infantry battalion and trained by coalition special operations forces. 

“The Afghan commandos have learned their strength is their delegation of responsibility and trust to their non-commissioned officers [NCOs],” said the coalition special operations forces adviser. “This can be seen in the successful planning and operations, because it mirrors that of U.S. SOF, a foundation built on strength, talent and resiliency of the NCO.”

This clearing mission in the Shonkrai valley, which was planned and executed by the Afghan commandos, was an overwhelming success as they accomplished more than they had planned. The destruction of the IED and bombmaking materials saved the lives of numerous innocent villagers, ANSF and coalition members.

“The commandos are motivated and have proven they are capable of doing missions and will perform,” said the coalition special operations forces adviser. “This was an exemplary operation where the commandos executed multiple complex tasks simultaneously by utilizing their chain of command, empowering their NCOs and placing greater responsibility on individual commandos.”