Coalition Launches 'Operation Mountain Lion' in Afghanistan
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 12, 2006 Coalition forces, in cooperation with the Afghan National Army, began "Operation Mountain Lion" yesterday to establish security, deter the re-emergence of terrorism, and enhance the sovereignty of Afghanistan, military officials reported today.
Afghan and coalition forces killed six insurgents today while conducting offensive operations in the Marawara district of Afghanistan's Kunar province.
Military officials in Afghanistan said Operation Mountain Lion is part of the coalition's ongoing series of offensives that aim to disrupt insurgent activities, deny them sanctuary and prevent their ability to restock.
"This operation is helping the government of Afghanistan set the security conditions so democratic processes can take root," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Allen Peck, deputy air component commander for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan. "Our job is to bring airpower to bear on the anti-Afghan forces and support the coalition troops on the ground."
Operations today began with predawn air-and-ground assaults in the Pech River Valley, an area notorious for terrorist activity, Combined Force Command Afghanistan officials said.
Soldiers from 3rd Brigade of the Afghan National Army's 203rd Corps are fighting alongside servicemembers from the coalition's Task Force Spartan, made up of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division and 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment Marines from Task Force Lava.
More than 2,500 Afghan National Army and coalition forces are involved in the operation.
"We're taking the fight to the terrorists in their own backyard," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. James Redmore of Task Force Spartan. "They gave their victims no sanctuary. They'll receive none from us."
Coalition leaders described the operation as a comprehensive effort to kill, incapacitate or capture terrorists operating in the region. It will continue as long as necessary, they said.
"Together, with our ANA brothers-in-arms, we're eliminating the enemy's remaining sanctuaries in Kunar province," added Army Col. John Nicholson, Task Force Spartan's commander.
U.S. Air Force F-15s, A-10s and B-52s are providing close-air support to troops on the ground engaged in rooting out insurgent sanctuaries and support networks. Royal Air Force GR-7s also are providing close-air support to coalition troops in contact with enemy forces. U.S. Air Force Global Hawk and Predator aircraft are providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, while KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft are providing refueling support.
"Our objective is to assist the coalition forces and Afghan national security forces in defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda," Peck said. "The coalition employs airpower every day to support Afghanistan's democratically elected government in establishing regional stability and long-term economic and political development."
Anti-terror efforts like this will extend the reach of the Afghan government, allowing legitimate governance to perform valuable work on behalf of the people in this region, Nicholson said. Stability and security will, in turn, permit nongovernmental aid and reconstruction organizations to work more efficiently.
(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)