Running contrary to the usual news coming out of Afghanistan; that of for example, a resurgent Taliban, and strikes on military convoys, it was pleasing to finally read some good news in our fight against the common enemy.
AUSTRALIAN Special Forces operating deep inside Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan have inflicted critical damage to the insurgents senior leadership severely restricting their ability to launch offensive action, the army's head of special operations said today … adding, “Australian forces operating deep inside Afghanistan have inflicted critical damage to the Taliban's leadership”.
In a rare briefing to the media summarising 524 days of combat action since the special forces returned to fight in Oruzgan, Major-General Tim McOwan, pledged no let-up in the brutal counter-insurgency despite the onset of a harsh Afghan winter.
And he had this Christmas Message for the Taliban: “We will find you. We will hunt you down. Your time is limited.”
Elite Special Air Service operatives and Commandos operating in some of the most gruelling conditions ever encountered had killed four senior Taliban leaders, captured seven others including one, Ahmad Shah, in his bed.
Another 180 lower ranking insurgents had been captured and handed over to Afghan authorities, Maj-Gen McOwan said.
“These are all key middle- to high-level Taliban leaders or IED (bomb makers) facilitators operating in or around Oruzgan province.
“These are individuals who are or have been involved in killing innocents and actively trying to kill coalition troops.
“These are successes not just for the SOTG (Special Operations Task Group) but for the hard-working poor civilians of Afghanistan and for the fledgling democracy itself,” he said.
For the first time, Maj-Gen McOwan revealed that in early October special forces killed a high-level Taliban commander, Mullah Korullah Shakir, implicated in bomb manufacturing and attacks on Afghan civilian and coalition troops.
“We know that the loss of these individuals has had a dramatic impact on the resilience of these Taliban networks,” he said.
Major-General Tim McOwan also described the efforts of one very brave soldier.
AN Australian soldier dashed 80 metres across ground raked by Taliban machine-gun fire to rescue a severely wounded Afghan interpreter. In the same clash in Afghanistan's dangerous Oruzgan province, another soldier used his own body to shield a wounded comrade from enemy fire. >> more
Regrettably, NATO backed forces in Afghanistan remain “woefully under-strength” and, as the U.S., who presently has some 31,000 troops in the county, acts to bolster numbers, it becomes only “just” that NATO recommits to the cause. In the interim, and given that US military planners estimate 500,000 troops, including newly trained Afghan National Army soldiers, are needed to secure the country, I expect Australia will soon be asked to put even more boots on the ground in Afghanistan.