E34 on Operation Slipper MTF-2

Since arriving in Deh Rawud district in October 2010, Combat Engineers from 3 Field Engineering Troop (3 FE TP), 9 Field Squadron 1 CER (1 Combat Engineers Regiment), have been operating in conjunction with Combat Team Charlie (CT-C) led by C Company 5 RAR. 3 FE TP have been conducting mobility and survivability operations to support CT-C in mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Cpl Smthorst and Sapper Bic 3 FE TP

CPL Methorst and Spr Bic from 3 Field Engineering Troop as combat engineers our job mainly deals with the search for Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) and caches to deny the insurgents ability to target coalition forces and allow us freedom of movement in the battle space. We can also conduct a limited exploitation on detonated devices to gain intelligence on Insurgent techniques, tactics and procedures then develop our own to work effectively against them. We also conduct other tasks such as minor construction to assist the ANSF as well as to improve the standard of living around the base.

Engineers have been involved in the majority of tasks conducted so far, as IED’s are amongst the highest threats throughout Uruzgan. We deploy as four man search teams attached to infantry Operations Mentor and Liaison Teams (OMLT), the force protection platoon or cavalry elements in order to mitigate the threat from IED’s so that they can complete their mission.

The Combat Engineer element also has Explosive Ordnance Disposal assets and one Explosive Detection Dog. These elements have been essential in assisting in disposing of caches and IED’s as well as finding them.

Since arriving in country we have conducted various training activities with C Company, such as marksmanship, first aid and fire and movement, which has improved our basic soldier skills and interoperability allowing us to be more effective whilst on patrol with the elements from Combat Team Charlie. We in turn have shown them basic principles of search, how to react to finds and strikes, identify IED components and how to report these incidents, increasing their own survivability against IED’s.

We have also conducted training for the ANSF to prepare them to take the responsibility of mobility and survivability within the Da Rawud District. This has been a rewarding experience in that the ANSF have been fighting for so long without the knowledge to protect themselves from IED’s and now we have the opportunity to pass some knowledge and training onto them.

So far we have had many significant cache finds denying lots of IED components and munitions to the Taliban, preventing them from utilising these various weapons against us. These cache finds have had a dramatic effect on the battlefield with INS (Insurgents) not having enough equipment to put up a big fight. We have also had a lot of success in finding IED’s before they cause injury to Coalition Forces. This is a great reward for us, as we know that we have saved lives doing our job. To date engineers have safely manoeuvred all supported elements around the battlefield unfortunately losing a brother CPL Richard Atkinson ('Akka') in the process. This unfortunate event occurred when Akka and his team were out the front as usual clearing a path for his CT-C comrades.

The engineers have developed a respected work ethic and professionalism from the officers and men of Combat Team Charlie. This respect is held with high esteem among the Sappers of 3 FE TP and will continue to work hard protecting elements of Combat Team Charlie.

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