5 Apr 2007

PR# 2007-269

Operation Achilles Update - ISAF forces in Sangin Valley

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Last night ISAF forces conducted an air assault into the Sangin Valley by airlifting hundreds of troops, increasing pressure on Taliban extremists.  The air assault originated from Kandahar Airfield late last night and continued through to the early hours of the morning.  The airlift was a coordinated multinational effort combining rotary wing assets including CH-46 Chinook, UH-60 Blackhawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters. 

This was a coordinated operation that began moments after ground forces from Task Force Helmand secured their positions a few kilometers away from the planned landing zone.  Upon insertion, troops then conducted a night advance securing predetermined objectives.

At first light this morning, ISAF troops spread out to extend security in the Sangin area.  ISAF forces discovered an enemy weapons cache containing over a dozen large caliber rounds of munitions such as 82 mm mortar and 107 mm rockets and RPG as well as 20,000 small arms munitions and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making materiel.  In addition, an enemy mortar firing position was located and destroyed.

“This phase of Operation Achilles is simply another step towards our long-term goal of providing the security conditions necessary to allow the Government of Afghanistan to begin reconstruction and development in the area”, said Major General Ton van Loon Commander, Regional Commander - South. “Achilles has taken Taliban extremists off guard and we have inflicted serious damage to their command and control infrastructure as well as their ability to re-supply.” 

Operation Achilles was launched exactly one month ago with the deployment of nearly 5,000 ISAF and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) troops in and around Northern Helmand.  The purpose of the operation is to increase security in the area to allow the Government of Afghanistan to extend their authority to this part of Southern Afghanistan.

Achilles deployed troops around Northern Helmand in a counter clockwise direction first starting with the Ghorak and Maywand districts on March 5 and 6 respectively, followed by the Deh Rawod district on March 9 and finally to Delaram area in coordination with Regional Command West, March 11.

To date ISAF and ANSF troops have engaged Taliban extremist forces on more than 200 occasions, severely disrupting extremists’ lines of communications, impeding their ability to receive reinforcements of foreign extremists and limiting their ability to re-supply their diminishing stocks of munitions.

Under the framework of Operation Achilles, ISAF and ANSF troops continue to enable development initiatives such as the renovations of mosques, schools and hospitals. The operation presents an opportunity to proceed with reconstruction and development initiatives such as the Gereshk hydro electric power station, the Teacher Training College at Lashkar Gah and the actual completion of the repairs of the Now Zad medical center.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/