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Afghan helicopters support independent operations

Afghan National Army soldiers load equipment on to an Mi-17 helicopter from the Kandahar Air Wing at Multi National Base - Tarin Kot.
Afghan National Army soldiers load equipment on to an Mi-17 helicopter from the Kandahar Air Wing at Multi National Base - Tarin Kot.

The Uruzgan based 4th Brigade of the Afghan National Army has taken major steps in perfecting its logistic resupply and casualty evacuation capabilities by using helicopters from the Kandahar Air Wing (KAW).

During an independent operation in Kajran district, Daykundi province, Afghan forces coordinated an ammunition, personnel and equipment resupply from Tarin Kot, Uruzgan, using two Mi-17 helicopters from the KAW.

The indigenous rotary wing support ensured mission critical assets were delivered to a remote outpost in a timely fashion, allowing the Afghan forces to repel a series of insurgent attacks from 21 – 25 February 2013.

Colonel Kandahari, Commander of the 4th Brigade, said the success of the operation in Kajran was significantly aided by the helicopter support.

“The enemy attacked the bazaar at Kajran, so we sent our security forces to the area by helicopters and they defeated the enemy there and seized ammunition the insurgents would have used against the Afghan people.

“Afghans do not allow insurgents here anymore, the government is able to provide security in every corner of the country and defend our people from the enemy,” Colonel Kandahari said.

Throughout the operation, several sorties were flown to ferry in infantry, combat engineers, medics, doctors, and ammunition.

KAW also provided medical evacuation for two Afghan National Police (ANP) casualties who sustained gun shot wounds in Kajran. They were transferred from Kajran to Tarin Kot, before subsequent transit to Kandahar to receive surgical treatment. Both survived.

Sergeant Shikeeb Ghafoory, a medic from the 5th Kandak supporting the operation in Kajran, said continued use of the helicopters helped save Afghan lives.

“The helicopters are not only good for the ANA, but they are good for the whole of Afghanistan and its people. Now it is really easy to help our injured; if there are people in other far away provinces, it is much quicker to get them to hospital,” Sergeant Ghafoory said.

Warrant Officer Class Two Robert Cuttler, chief medic from the 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Task Group (7 RAR TG) who is advising the 4th Brigade, said achieving self sustainable medical evacuation for the Afghans was one of the primary goals for the Australian advisors.

“The ultimate goal we wanted to achieve was for the KAW to work with the 4th Brigade. Their treatments at the point of injury are fairly down pat now, and they’ve got their treatments once they get to a facility to a pretty good standard,” Warrant Officer Cuttler said.

“Now the success is getting casualties from facility to facility and indeed from point of injury to facility in what is known as the golden hour, and if they can keep using KAW to do that, that is definitely a step forward for them,” he said.