News: Still providing security for multinational – Tarin Kot
By Australian Army Capt. (O-2) Chris Rickey
TARIN KOT, Afghanistan - With the current Australian Defence Force mission in Uruzgan in its 11th hour, the repatriation and redeployment of equipment and personnel is in full swing.
Providing security, in this still hostile environment, is Security Force 2(SECFOR 2). Consisting of Royal Australian Air Force Airfield Defence Guards, SECFOR 2 is not only responsible for the physical security of Multi National Base – Tarin Kot but also the immediate surrounds.
A critical element of security operations is the conduct of screening patrols. On Oct. 15, members of SECFOR 2, accompanied by Australian Army Engineers and a Military Working Dog Team swept through the village of Shomali in Southern Uruzgan.
Tasked with leading the patrol, Air Force Cpl. William Gill, one of his priorities to clear a series of caves on the outskirts of Shomali.
“We were 4k’s south east of Multi National Base – Tarin Kot. We first pushed through and cleared the caves that skirt the township. Basically, we were clearing them for any unexploded munitions or any items left over from the Soviet occupation that could potentially be used against us,” Gill said.
The engineers and dog provided the patrol with an added layer of protection and flexibility.
“When we head ‘outside the wire’ we always have an engineer brick with us but not necessarily the dog. The dog is extremely useful for these areas, particularly the caves, where it’s hard for us to get inside. The dog is great on patrol,” said Leading Aircraftsman Lloyd Simmons.
Once the caves were cleared, the Airfield Defence Guards moved into Shomali, where valuable interaction with the residents took place. These discussions, a major part of the "hearts and minds" campaign in Uruzgan.
“This is our second time in Shomali and we have spoken to these local elders before, often they give us chai and we will sit down and interact and talk about general stuff - farming their clothes, what they are doing today, if there are any ANP that live in the town. All just to get a sense of how they feel about our presence here,” Gill Said.
Flying the Australian Flag is never a bad thing according to LAC Simmons.
“Every town is different some children stay away from us but everyone here is friendly. The children and adults, everyone knows who we are. We are Australians, everyone accepts us, everyone comes out for a chat… it is great,” he said.
For the RAAF, the lessons learned on the ground in Afghanistan, on patrols like this will prove invaluable for future Airfield Defence Guards.
“To come out and conduct patrolling like this, on this sort of scale is extremely important for us. There have been a lot of lessons learnt through working with the army engineers and with our predecessors, 1 Airfield Defence Squadron, who were here just before us,” Gill said.