Battle of Nawzad
The Battle of Nawzad was an ongoing battle between ISAF forces and Taliban insurgents in Nawzad at the center of Nawzad district in the northern half of Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan. Much of the coverage around the battle considered it to be an example of why the United States' strategy for the war in Afghanistan had to change, as limited troop numbers hampered the ISAF forces' ability to eradicate the Taliban from the strategically vital south for three years prior to the arrival of reinforcements in August 2009; until that time, U. S. Marines were locked in a stalemate with the insurgents. British and Estonian forces had fought to similar standstills before the Marines arrived. After several major offensive operations from August through December 2009, ISAF claimed to have regained control over the district and began reconstruction; the town of Nawzad is situated 65 kilometres north of Camp Bastion and Camp Leatherneck, the conjoined main ISAF bases in Helmand province. Surrounded to the southwest and east by mountains, the town consists of a bazaar, one road, a maze of mud-brick houses and compounds, interspersed with narrow alleys.
The local economy traditionally revolves around opium poppy farming. Like much of Afghanistan and the surrounding area were peaceful after the 2001 invasion; the United Nations, European Union, other Western-funded agencies sent staff to Nawzad to build wells and health clinics. In the spring of 2006, as part of the stage three expansion of the ISAF mandate to cover the southern provinces of Afghanistan, a contingent of British troops was deployed to Helmand. At the same time, while most United States military attention was focused on Iraq, the insurgency stepped up in the south; the governor of Helmand province, Mohammad Daoud, urged the British commander Brigadier Ed Butler, to defend government positions in Nawzad and Musa Qala, that had come under attack by Taliban insurgents. Butler was at first reluctant to see his small force tied down to fixed positions in remote outstations, but when Daoud threatened to resign over the issue, he relented, dispatched a small force to protect Nawzad. During the campaign in 2006, the town began to sustain aid workers fled.
By 2007, fighting had escalated between Taliban insurgents and contingents of British and Gurkha forces and prompted all of the 35,000 residents to flee. British soldiers of the ISAF force stationed in the village, gave the town the nickname of "Apocalypse Now Zad" in light of the heavy fighting they faced in late 2006 and early 2007, in reference to the Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now. A wall of the compound the soldiers were based in had "Welcome to Apocalypse Now Zad" painted on its side. In 2008, an Estonian Army peacekeeping force joined the British contingent; the two forces conducted numerous operations to push Taliban fighters out of the town. Despite their joint efforts however, it was not enough to clear the town of Taliban insurgents and the stalemate continued. At this point in time the total British force was estimated to be 82 troops. 37 from 7 Para RHA, 5 from C Battery 3 RHA 20 troops from Royal Irish, 20 troops from 9 Para Sqn RE, RLC, MFCs from 5 Scots and British Medics. The troops from 7 Para RHA were sent to replace the 100 Estonian troops.
The 42 troops from F Para Bty, 7 Para RHA patrolled the area for about 6 weeks. The 42 troops from 7 Para RHA handed over to 200 US Marines and 105 Estonians leaving a troop number of around 340 in the town. In March 2008, Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines arrived to reinforce the British and Estonian forces; the Marines' mission was to "train police", but they were surprised to discover the town a ghost town. The city was in ruins and dangerous; the local police were poorly trained and ill-equipped to combat Taliban fighters without ISAF support, so had fled with the townspeople. The Marines' mission in Nawzad soon changed to securing the town so that the people and their police could return, for the next six months they battled alongside British and Estonian forces to regain control of the area surrounding the district center; the 200-strong Marine company soon found. In late 2008, Lima Company, 3/8 arrived to replace Fox 2/7. At the same time, the remaining British and Estonian forces were reassigned to other areas as part of the re-alignment of forces that came with increased US presence in Helmand.
Nawzad District remained one of the most violent areas of Afghanistan, with regular firefights and airstrikes by the US Marines trying to solidify control of the still abandoned city. On April 3, 2009, two mortar sections of 3/8 fired over 3,236 81mm and 120mm rounds in support a major combat operation by other elements of 3/8 against insurgent forces; the Marines bombarded the insurgent front line, with jets dropping bombs and attack helicopters firing rockets into buildings where insurgents had holed up while ground forces raided several targets. From their base, the Marines fired mortars into insurgent fortifications; the attack and other operations during the winter and spring of 2009 succeeded in pushing back the front line by a few hundred yards and creating a larger buffer around the U. S. positions in preparation for future operations as larger forces became available. On July 2, 2009, 4,000 Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade launched a major offensive, dubbed Operation Khanjar into the province's Taliban-held territory.
This offensive and others to follow were a result of reinforcements ordered to Afghanistan by President Obama
Battle of Musa Qala
The Battle of Musa Qala was a British led military action in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, launched by the Afghan National Army and the International Security Assistance Force against the Taliban on 7 December 2007. After three days of intense fighting, the Taliban retreated into the mountains on 10 December. Musa Qala was reported captured on 12 December, with Afghan Army troops pushing into the town centre; the operation was codenamed snakepit. Senior ISAF officers, including U. S. general Dan K. McNeill, the overall ISAF commander, agreed to the assault on 17 November 2007, it followed more than nine months of Taliban occupation of the town, the largest the insurgents controlled at the time of the battle. ISAF forces had occupied the town, until a controversial withdrawal in late 2006, it was the first battle in the War in Afghanistan in which Afghan army units were the principal fighting force. Statements from the British Ministry of Defence emphasised that the operation was Afghan-led, although the ability of Afghan units to function without NATO control was questioned during the battle.
Military engagement over Musa Qala is part of a wider conflict between coalition forces and the Taliban in Helmand. Both before and after the battle, related fighting was reported across a larger area in Sangin district to the south of Musa Qala. Musa Qala is a town of around 15,000 to 20,000 people, with another 25,000 in the surrounding area. ISAF forces were first deployed in the town in mid-June 2006, as part of the "platoon house" strategy; this consisted of protecting the district centres of Northern Helmand with small detachments of British ISAF troops, at the request of the provincial governor Mohammed Daoud. This move met with an unexpectedly fierce resistance from the Taliban and local tribesmen, who used conventional, rather than asymmetric tactics, to drive the coalition from their positions; the isolated British garrison found itself under siege and constant attack for long periods, their replacements could only be brought in after a full battle group operation, codenamed Snakebite, broke through Taliban lines in early August.
The fighting ended in October 2006 when, in a controversial move, control was ceded to local tribal elders. The deal was intended to see neither British nor Taliban forces in the town in an effort to reduce conflict and civilian casualties. At the time, a British officer commented: "There is an obvious danger that the Taliban could make the deal and renege on it." The Taliban did renege on the agreement over-running the town with 200 to 300 troops in February 2007. The Taliban seizure followed a US airstrike. A confluence of tribal politics and money from the opium trade helped ensure the uneasy truce would not hold. At the time, the government claimed they could retake the town within 24 hours, but that plan had been postponed to avoid causing civilian casualties. Musa Qala was the only significant town held by the Taliban at the time of the assault, they had imposed a strict rule on its inhabitants. Special tribunals were set up, pronouncing sentences of stoning, amputation, or death by hanging against those who were considered enemies, or who contravened a strict interpretation of the Sharia.
Four men are known to have been hanged as spies during this period. The Taliban levied heavy taxes, closed down schools, drafted local men into their ranks by force. Other deprivations were reminiscent of previous Taliban rule: men attacked for not wearing beards; the town is situated in a major opium poppy growing area and a BBC correspondent has reported it to be the centre of the heroin trade in Afghanistan. In the lead up to the assault on Musa Qaleh, members of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force provided vital intelligence for the upcoming operation. Coalition military manoeuvres and a build-up of troops and supplies continued for weeks before the assault. On 1 November, British forces started reconnaissance patrols in preparation for the attack. In the middle of that month, the MOD reported that troops from Brigade Reconnaissance Force, 40 Commando Royal Marines and the Right Flank Company of the Scots Guards were patrolling outside the town to confuse the Taliban insurgents and disrupt their supply routes.
In the days before the assault, reconnaissance patrols penetrated as close as a 1.5 miles to the Musa Qala town centre. Hundreds of families were reported to have fled from the pending assault, after the coalition dropped leaflets in warning. Furthermore, the coalition secured the defection of a critical tribal leader, Mullah Abdul Salaam, governor of Uruzgan province under Taliban rule. A leader of the Alizai tribe, Salaam was reported to be in negotiation with the coalition as early as October 2007, causing a rift within the Taliban, his defection was sought by Afghan president Hamid Karzai and he brought as many as one third of the Taliban forces defending Musa Qala to the coalition side. However, it is unclear if they fought on the side of the ISAF or stayed out of the fight. Prior to the battle, two thousand militants were reported to be holding the town. A similar claim of 2,050 "fully armed fighters" was made in late November by Enqiadi, a taliban commander. At the time, Enqiadi seemed confident that the whole of Helmand province would fall to the Taliban in the winter of 2007–08.
Subsequent estimates reduced numbers of Taliban fighters, with an ISAF officer suggesting that the maximum strength was closer to two to three hundred. The main assault on Musa Qala began at 4 pm on 7 December. Several Taliba
Operation Strike of the Sword
Operation Strike of the Sword or Operation Khanjar was a US-led offensive in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. About 4,000 Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade as well as 650 Afghan troops were involved, supported by NATO planes; the operation began when units moved into the Helmand River valley in the early hours of July 2, 2009. This operation was the largest Marine offensive since the Battle of Fallujah in 2004; the operation was the biggest offensive airlift by the Marines since the Vietnam War. The Marines pushed into three significant towns along a 75-mile stretch of the Helmand River valley south of Lashkar Gah. At least two Marine infantry battalions and one Marine Light Armored Reconnaissance battalion spearheaded the operation. In the north, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines pushed into Garmsir district. In central Helmand, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines pushed into Nawa-I-Barakzayi to the south of Lashkar Gah, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion entered Khanashin in the Khan Neshin district.
Since 2001, Helmand province was considered to be a Taliban stronghold and had been one of the most dangerous provinces for coalition forces in Afghanistan, with British troops being locked in a stalemate since 2006. The large expanse of land made controlling the province difficult, while volunteers from across the Muslim world and hundreds of local Afghan nationals continued to join the insurgency. There was a growing concern among U. S. military and intelligence officials that much of the violence that has plagued Helmand was linked to a flow of fighters and munitions from Pakistan's Balochistan region. To help staunch the violent Taliban insurgency, President Obama, on February 18, 2009, approved an increase in US forces in Afghanistan, akin to President Bush's Iraq War troop surge of 2007. By early June 2009, over 10,000 Marines had poured into southern Afghanistan, the first wave of the 21,000 troop surge; the town of Nawzad became a clear example to Afghanistan experts of the challenges facing US forces as they sought to change the tide of the war with a limited number of troops.
The town has been the scene of a stalemate since 2006. Neither British nor Estonian forces were able to dominate the region. Since taking over in March 2008, U. S. Marines too met a similar standstill. For months, a lone company of Marines was assigned to the town. Requests for reinforcements were turned down as senior Marine commanders had to give priorities to areas with more civilians. Though outright victory wasn't possible, the idea behind a single company of Marines "slugging it out" with the Taliban was to keep the insurgents occupied there while other units could win less battles and more hearts and more minds elsewhere. In April 2009, with three battalions in the region, the Marines were able to succeed in pushing back the front line by a few hundred yards and creating a larger buffer around the U. S. positions. A substantial number of insurgents were believed to be killed. However, by the end of June 2009, the town was still locked in a stalemate and the town remained a ghost town. In addition, the Afghanistan presidential elections, scheduled to be held on August 20, 2009, were being questioned.
Critics asked how a meaningful national election could be held when Taliban militants controlled so much of southern Afghanistan. Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the goal of the operation was not just driving out the Taliban from areas they control, but securing the area to allow the Afghan government to operate. Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, commander of 2nd MEB, declared that the operation was aimed to improve security ahead of presidential elections, allowing voter registration where before there was none; the Marines would overwhelmingly assault and consolidate the ISAF's hold in the region. The conflict began around 1:00 a.m. local time when Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, were dropped by CH-47s and UH-60s helicopters of the 82nd Airborne Division, into dirt fields around the town of Nawa-l-Barakzayi, south of Lashkar Gah. The first shots of the operation were fired at daybreak when a Marine unit received small-arms fire from a tree-line.
Cobra attack helicopters were called in and made strafing runs at the tree line from where the fire was coming from. Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, were dropped by helicopters just outside the town of Sorkh-Duz; the town of Sork-Duz lies between Garmsir. Temperatures reached over 100 °F. Although the operation was meant to eliminate the Taliban threat, the operation's principal focus was to win the locals' confidence and protect them from Taliban threat. To affirm this, Marine units throughout exercised military restraint when encountering enemy insurgents. Although the troops encountered roadside bombs and small-arms attacks, which resulted in the death of one Marine and several others wounded, commanders opted to mute their return fire. In the first 24 hours of the operation, the Marines did not fire artillery or call for fighter planes to drop bombs. Civilian casualties was an issue Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U. S. Forces Afghanistan and ISAF commander, underscored prior to the operation, as it was one sure way of losing the locals' hearts and minds regardless of how many human shields the Taliban would go through on a single day.
McChrystal further elaborated the need for constant surveillance to foil Taliban attempts to murder civilians while claiming US collateral damage. Though troops in similar circumstances might have called in airstrikes, Marine commanders practiced what they called "tactical patience" in a conscious effort to further minimize coalition civilian casualties in the face of
Operation Moshtarak known as the Battle of Marjah, an International Security Assistance Force pacification offensive in the town of Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It involved a combined total of 15,000 Afghan, British, Canadian and Estonian troops; the purpose of which, to remove the Taliban from Marja, eliminating the last Taliban stronghold in central Helmand Province. The main target of the offensive was the town of Marjah, controlled for years by the Taliban as well as drug traffickers. Although Moshtarak was described as the largest operation in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, it was supposed to be the prelude to a much larger offensive in Kandahar that would follow Moshtarak by several months. ISAF chose to publicize the operation before it was launched, comparing its scope and size to the 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah, in the hopes that Taliban fighters in the town would flee; the operation was designed to showcase improvements in both the Afghan government and Afghan security forces.
ISAF would use five Afghan brigades. General Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of ISAF promised that following the offensive ISAF would install a "government in a box" in Marja. While successful, ISAF and the Afghans failed to set up a working government in the town, leading to a successful resurgence by the Taliban. In October the town was still described as "troubling", but by early December the fighting there was declared "essentially over"; the operation was called "a key test" of the coalition strategy against the Taliban insurgency. Brigadier James Cowan, the commander of British forces in Helmand, believed it would mark "the start of the end of this insurgency". At the least it would become a test of whether the Afghan forces would be able to make their country peaceful and safe; the announcement of the operation was a part of this strategy: "shaping the information battlefield strategic communications", to ensure it would not repeat the destruction of Fallujah in Iraq in 2004. Hours before the offensive began and coalition forces dropped leaflets with the message, "Do not allow the Taliban to enter your home".
After this operation in Helmand province, the neighbouring province and the city of Kandahar became a target of American operations. In March 2010, U. S. and NATO commanders released details of plans for the biggest offensive of the war against the Taliban insurgency. When launched, the operation was called a "new war model". Afghan and NATO officials had assembled a large team of Afghan administrators and an Afghan governor that would move into Marja after the fighting, with more than 1,900 police standing by. "We've got a government in a box, ready to roll in", said American commander Stanley McChrystal. The capture of Marja was intended to serve as a prototype for a new type of military operation; the Afghan government had pledged to hold any territory seized in the Taliban heartland during the assault. Utilities engineers were on hand to ensure water supplies were maintained; as early as September 2009, Canadian soldiers from 3 Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry began training about 400 Afghan National Army recruits for the operation.
Since January 2010, coalition forces had launched smaller "shaping operations" to prepare for the main assault on February 13. One of these operations was a series of "find, strike" raids by four-man SAS teams and U. S. Army Special Forces team ODA 1231; these resulted in the deaths of 50 Taliban leaders in the area according to NATO, but didn't seem to have any real adverse effect on the Taliban's operations. In another operation, the Scots Guards and Grenadier Guards captured a bomb factory and defused 20 IEDs; the Afghan public was warned of the upcoming operation, in line with new rules of engagement for British forces, called "courageous restraint." The tactic, conceived by U. S. General Stanley McChrystal and British Major General Nick Carter, required soldiers to "use brain-power rather than fire-power" and hoped to reduce damage to the Afghan population by using fewer munitions and support measures. 11 Light Brigade, the main British formation in Helmand for use in the counter-insurgency role tested the doctrine in some of the more populated areas in Helmand.
The publicity and the new tactics intended to prevent the loss of civilians, to persuade insurgents to lay down their arms. The operation was the first in Helmand since the surge of 30,000 U. S. troops and additional British reinforcements in late 2009/early 2010. The main force was the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade as well as British Soldiers from 1 Coldstream Guards Battle Group, 1 Grenadier Guards Battle Group, 1 Royal Welsh Battle Group all supported by Close Support Combat Engineers from 28 Engineer Regiment. British Forces focused on the Lashkar Gah district and Nad Ali district, U. S. forces on the town of Marja. U. S. assault forces included the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines and 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, elements of 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion and 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion The operation intended to cut the opium trade. Its main aim was to ensure that captured ground can be held by British and American troops, enabling the Afghan government and civilian aid agencies and military contractors to work more
Battle of Garmsir
The Battle of Garmsir was a battle between U. S. Marines and other ISAF coalition forces, Taliban insurgents in Garmsir, southern Afghanistan, it was part of the ongoing Helmand Province campaign and took place between 2007-2011. By the end of December 2007, the situation on the ground reached a stalemate. A de facto border was established east of Garmsir along the banks of the Helmand River that divided British-held from Taliban-held territory; the British were outnumbered by the larger Taliban force, receiving reinforcements from Pakistan. However, the British had heavy artillery on their side. Both forces fought in the following months for mere yards of territory. In early 2008, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, under the command of Col. Peter Petronzio, arrived to reinforce the ISAF's fight. In April 2008, Col. Petronzio sent a battalion of U. S. Marines to Garmsir. 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, the battalion landing team for the 24th MEU along with elements from 2nd Reconnaissance Bn started their combat operations with an attack on the Taliban-held town of Garmsir on 28 April.
The operation was carried out in conjunction with British troops of the 16 Air Assault Brigade. Taliban forces withdrew from the town as a result of the assault and took up a position further south. After seizing Garmsir, the Marines pushed further south into an area where the insurgents had built bunkers and tunnels capable of withstanding coalition airstrikes, they ran into stiff resistance and the operation, expected to take a few days, lasted more than a month to complete. This alerted the ISAF commander that the town was important to the insurgents, so he ordered the Marines to remain in the area, rather than clear the town and leave, he was concerned that the Taliban would emerge after the Marines left, falsely claiming that they had run ISAF forces off. With the original mission changed, the Marines transitioned from combat operations to civil operations; the 24th MEU commander Colonel Peter Petronzio focused on protecting the local Afghans as they began to return to their homes after having been displaced by the Taliban.
The Marines continued their combat operations in the area, killing more than 400 insurgents between April and July 2008, according to governor Gulab Mangal. On 8 September 2008, the 24th MEU returned control of Garmsir to British forces, after having operated in the area for 130 days; the town was deemed more stable. On 18 June 2009, Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, as part of the northern push of Operation Khanjar, entered Garmsir Province. By 5 July, elements of 2/8 were engaged in heavy fighting at Toshtay, 16 miles south of Garmsir. After protracted fighting, the Marines overcame much of the Taliban resistance and began to set up additional patrol bases in Garmsir as part of the Clear-Hold-Build strategy designed to drive the Taliban south and continue Marine territorial gains. On 14 April 2010, Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines deployed to Garmsir District with the mission to deny the enemy freedom of movement through combat and counterinsurgency operations; the year of 2010 was marked as the deadliest year of Operation Enduring Freedom in which the Marines of 3/1 saw some of the heaviest of fighting.
Platoons from Kilo Company were utilized during operations to raid and attack Taliban fighters in intense battles such as Operation Master Blaster. During their deployment, they established several new patrol bases in the southern most parts of Garmsir, as well as fought building by building in intense fighting to clear the fortified and IED filled Taliban stronghold of Safaar Bazaar. 3/1 was recognized by the Regimental Commander as one of the most aggressive battalions in the Marine Corps. Before the arrival of 3/1, no units ventured as far south into Helmand province’s village of Safaar. Col. Randall P. Newman, the commanding officer of RCT-7, described that battle of Safaar Bazaar as "achieving the last tactical objective.” A success, used to map follow on victories such as Marjah and Musa Qala. On 14 January 2011 Marines from 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers began clearing Durzay, one of the last remaining Taliban strongholds in the Garmsir District. Marines crossed over to the western banks of the Helmand River and established positions to deny the Taliban the freedom of movement that had allowed them to continue transporting weapons and supplies from Pakistan despite the increased Marine presence in Garmsir.
Marines encountered less resistance than expected and Operation Godfather marked the end of major fighting in the Battle for Garmsir, although the Taliban continued to fight after the Operation's conclusion using guerrilla tactics and IED emplacement. Helmand Province campaign – ongoing ISAF campaign in Helmand Province, Afghanistan
2003 Lejay firefight
A skirmish occurred on the morning of February 10, 2003 outside Lejay, a small village in the northern, mountainous part of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The village is in the Baghran valley, one of the few highways in Afghanistan passes through it. American intelligence analysts assert that the village is the focus of the Opium Trade. Vehicles approaching the village report being fired on. In response American forces mobilized hundreds of troops to comb the country surrounding the village in Operation Eagle Fury; the Operation mobilized dozens of coalition warplanes. As an active participant on one of the SFODAs, I recommend anyone seeking information regarding this extended battle to visit: Lejay, Afghanistan. Colonel Roger King, a Department of Defense spokesman in Bagram offered daily briefings on the initial skirmish, the on Eagle Fury. In 2004 the Summary of Evidence memos prepared for the Combatant Status Review Tribunals of the captives apprehended following the initial shooting incident offered a different account.
According to Colonel King: An ambush occurred around dawn on February 10, 2003. American forces saw five shooters, who retreated into nearby caves, when the forces on the ground called in air support; the Summary of Evidence memos prepared for the villagers who were sent to Guantanamo, on the other hand: Said that the American vehicles were fired on at around 10:30 am. That American forces saw the shooters escape in a white car; that the American forces were not on a routine patrol, that they had set out to capture warlord Raes Abdul Wahed, described as the Taliban District Commander
Operation Lastay Kulang or Pickaxe Handle was a British-led NATO offensive in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan. Lastay Kulang began on May 30 and ended on June 14, 2007, with 2000 ISAF and Afghan National Army troops taking part; the mission was a direct follow-up of Operation Achilles. At around 4:00 local time on May 30, 2007, ISAF and ANSF personnel advanced towards the village of Kajaki Sofle, ten kilometres south-west of the town of Kajaki, to remove a Taliban force whose presence threatened the security and stability of the Lower Sangin Valley. During the night, elements of the American 82nd Airborne Division mounted an aerial assault on a Taliban compound. One of the Chinook helicopters taking part in the raid was hit by an RPG round and crashed, killing five Americans, a Briton and a Canadian on board. By June 2, NATO claimed to have surrounded several pockets of Taliban fighters; the Royal Engineers have started several reconstruction projects in the area, such as digging irrigation ditches, to try to win over local support.
On June 5, a gun battle and air strikes killed an estimated two dozen Taliban fighters in Southern Afghanistan, the U. S.-led coalition and Afghan government reported. Upwards of 80 Taliban fighters may have drowned in two separate incidents in early June, when the makeshift boats they were travelling on sank as they attempted to cross the Helmand River; the sinkings were witnessed by NATO helicopters. A British soldier was killed in a firefight at a Taliban compound to the north east of Gereshk on June 6. Another NATO soldier was killed in the south of the country that same day. On June 8, a battle and air strikes in southern Afghanistan left 30 suspected Taliban dead or wounded, the Ministry of Defense reported; the outcome of "Lastay Kulang" is disputed. NATO spokespersons claimed the operation was a success, having cleared Sangin and Gereshk of Taliban and securing the Kajaki District. A new governor has been installed in Sangin and Shuras of tribal elders have been organised to hear their concerns.
Conversely, the Taliban claim that they still control much of Kajaki, some of the Sangin districts. These claims are confirmed by the local residents, who complain that the Taliban returned as soon as NATO and ANA troops had left, that the security situation has not improved at all. British forces casualties in Afghanistan since 2001 International Security Assistance Force War in Afghanistan Provincial reconstruction team