News: Afghan Commandos, Coalition forces disrupt Taliban stronghold in Zeriko Valley
Story by Spc. Anna Perry
By Spc. Anna K. Perry
Combined Joint task Force - 101
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — A team of Afghan national army commandos, advised by U.S. Special Operations Forces, attacked a Taliban sanctuary in western Afghanistan's Zeriko Valley recently.
The combined forces sought to liberate locals in the stronghold established by a Taliban commander, who is coordinating both the acquisition and movement of weapons and supplies, and the movement and employment of Taliban fighters within Farah province.
The commandos and their SOF advisors landed in the village of Parmakan, July 16, 2008.
"Our intent was to put them into a dilemma where they could either come out and fight like men or run away and yield a position of significance while losing face among both the Taliban and the locals," said a Marine SOF team leader, whose identity was withheld for security purposes. "On the first day we went in with the commandos, some of the Taliban fought and some ran away, but it didn't take long for all of them to leave town. The entire operation was a huge slap in the face to the Taliban."
Several Taliban leaders were the first to scurry away from the village, reinforcing the fact that they did not lead the first-rate fighting force they claimed. After routing the enemy, the commandos freed 16 local men held captive in the leader's compound and destroyed several Taliban weapons caches.
"We wanted to gauge the Taliban's fighting abilities, their weapons systems and their chain-of-command effectiveness within the Zeriko Valley," said a U.S. SOF team sergeant. "Their failure to defend themselves only proved how inferior they really are as fighters."
With increased commando operations and diminishing Taliban presence, the people living in the Zeriko Valley can lead safer lives.
"We have people from the Zeriko coming to talk to the commando leadership to thank the government for going into the valley," said a Marine SOF team sergeant. "They are extremely happy that the commandos got rid of the tyranny they've been living with."
The successful disruption of the Taliban in the Zeriko Valley can be directly attributed to the elite-warrior capabilities and unwavering professionalism of the commandos and the U.S. troops who advise them.
"The commandos performed flawlessly in the Zeriko Valley," said the U.S. SOF team leader. "The operation was a testament to their hard work and dedication to this country. We couldn't have reached this level of effectiveness without the Combined Joint Task Force-101's Task Force Eagle air assets landing us right on top of the Taliban. The element of surprise took the wind out of their sails before the fight even started."
The Marine SOF team leader said he believes the operation sends an important message to both the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan.
"The Taliban can go anywhere in this country and attempt to establish a sanctuary and we'll be one step behind to drive them out," the team leader said. "There will be no safe haven for Taliban fighters in this country. You can be sure of that."