By Sgt. Brendan Mackie, Combined Taskforce ViperJune 18, 2012
COMBAT OUTPOST LAKARAY, Afghanistan (Army News Service, June 18, 2012) --- Afghan Border Police and International Security Assistance Force members participated in Operation Southern Strike II in the Spin Boldak district, here, June 2-16, 2012.
The operation, led by the 3rd Kandak of the Afghan Border Police, or ABP, focused on interacting with local civilians as well as disrupting enemy formations in the vicinity of important passes in the area.
"The major areas of focus were the Ganjitsu Pass, then the Psha Pass and obviously the Wonake or Enjergay Pass," said Capt. Sean Nolan, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. "These are the major passes in our area that the enemy uses to push supplies and equipment and men through to support their fight both in the Spin Boldak area and in Afghanistan proper."
During the operation, 17 insurgents were killed, four suspects were detained and numerous caches of explosives and weapons were discovered.
Among the recovered contraband were more than 1,400 pounds of explosives, 19 anti-personnel mines, 12 pressure plates, four rifles, two rocket launchers, two directional fragmentation charges, one pistol and numerous rounds of ammunition.
Miscellaneous components of improvised explosive devices also recovered include 12 cell phones, 13 power sources, eight blasting caps, eight motorcycles, 18 feet of detonation cord and 50 feet of lamp cord.
Although these statistics hold significant weight, the biggest accomplishment was the performance by the ABP, Nolan said.
"This was our first major operation with them and we were unsure how things would go at a larger level," he said. "It was just impressive on all ends."
During the operation the ABP demonstrated an ability to perform at a tactical and strategic level not seen before in this district. They also demonstrated their ability to provide logistical support for themselves, including supplying themselves with water, food and fuel.
"I was very impressed by them," Nolan said. "What was really exciting to see, as the operation commenced, [was when] they took more and more of a lead role."
Early in the operation, the ABP and ISAF forces targeted areas that were identified through intelligence sources. In those villages, locals were able to provide the ABP with valuable information about the enemy and their movements.
"By midway to the end they [ABP] were pointing out objectives," Nolan said. "They were taking the lead and telling us, 'we need to go here and do this and that,' to the point where we were actually having to hold them back to coordinate assets. It was very impressive to see them really take leadership and ownership within their own area."
Looking forward, the biggest thing to understand is how ready the Afghans are to take over the mission, said Nolan.
"They're just looking for us to enable them to win," he said. "It's no longer the old days of us having to drag them to the objective and show them what right looks like. They want to go. They know where to go. They know what to do when they get there."
Although this was only the first operation between Nolan's company and the local ABP, he looks forward to the next installment.
"It excites me for the remainder of my tenure here, and our tenure here as a company, knowing that we have partners who are just chomping at the bit, and all we've got to do is enable their success, and that's really where we want to be."