Armoured thrust clears final Taliban from 'Panther's Claw' A Military Operations news article ... 27 July 2009



Taking and holding ground Panther's Claw was preceded by several other operations carried out by British and Afghan government forces with the purpose of "taking and holding ground" in Helmand Province. 

Thousands of British troops have been deployed in Helmand Province since 2006. Operation Zafar, launched on 27 April, lasted one week and involved more than 200 troops of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police, supported by elements of the Mercian Regiment and The Royal Gurkha Rifles, respectively. The operation succeeded in clearing the Taliban from several villages around Basharan in central Helmand, killing "many Taliban insurgents" according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) at a cost of only "handful" of ANA and British casualties. 

Zafar 2, launched on May 19, and lasting four days, saw British troops deployed to secure an area so that a checkpoint — to be manned by Afghan forces — could be built on a key route into the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.

On 29 May, soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers engaged and drove out Taliban fighters near the village of Yatimchay, south of Musa Qala. Lt Col Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, credited the arrival of additional American forces in Helmand with increasing the operational capability of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces in the province and helping to open the way for Panther's Claw.


A final armoured thrust across enemy territory has marked the end of Operation PANTHER'S CLAW; a five-week campaign to clear one of the few remaining Taliban strongholds in Helmand province. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh driving a Warrior Armoured Personnel Vehicle [Picture: Sgt Dan Harmer, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

[ Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh driving a Warrior Armoured Personnel Vehicle ]

The operation, known as PANCHAI PALANG in Pashtu, has cleared and secured the area between Lashkar Gah and Gereshk, a region which is home to up to 80,000 Helmandis. In a fiercely fought battle with the insurgents, British forces inflicted heavy losses on enemy forces, decimating their command and control structures and visibly weakening their resistance. As the fighting subsided and insurgents fled from their hidden positions, local people started to flock back to the previously deserted towns and villages.

[ Lance Corporal Dan Mazey ]

The final push in the five-week-long operation began in the early hours of 20 July 2009 when a mechanised Warrior company from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (2 Royal Welsh) pushed south west from Spin Masjed in an armoured sweep towards the east bank of the Luy Mandah wadi. Simultaneously, four Chinooks carrying 160 men from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), swooped into the Green Zone to secure nearby key ground in the west of Babiji. One hundred and forty men from 2 Royal Welsh in a convoy of Warriors, supported by tanks from a Danish battalion, pushed through the lush green countryside in the heart of the Green Zone, while their Scottish colleagues used the element of surprise to storm across land just a short distance away. 

Lance Corporal Dan Mazey, C Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, scans the ground during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW  [Picture: Sgt Dan Harmer, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The Royal Welsh cut through the countryside to avoid potentially lethal tracks and roadways strewn with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), linking up with 3 SCOTS who had pushed along the Babiji Road. The battle groups encountered relatively little resistance, an indication that Taliban fighters have fled the area as their hierarchy has fallen apart following the sustained attack over the past five weeks.  Lieutenant Colonel Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said:  "We have encountered very few insurgents on the last leg of Operation PANCHAI PALANG. This is a very positive sign. Rather than being attacked at every turn, as we saw when The Light Dragoons first entered Spin Masjed, the battle groups received a welcome from the locals, many of whom openly expressed how pleased they are to see the demise of Taliban influence in the area." Operation PANTHER'S CLAW began on 19 June 2009 when 350 soldiers from 3 SCOTS conducted a high risk air assault securing a canal crossing and a key Taliban drugs bazaar on the Nahr-e-Burgha. This was followed by a push up the Shamalan canal by the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, who secured 14 crossings, either establishing checkpoints or blocking them to create a barrier to movement and cutting off the insurgents' supply route. Nearer Gereshk, in a co-ordinated move, the Danish Battle Group left Forward Operating Base Price in armoured vehicles with the mission of securing two other crossing points along the Nahr-e-Burgha canal to allow The Light Dragoons Battle Group to move deep into the enemy territory of Spin Masjed.  Initially, The Light Dragoons encountered fierce fighting through compounds in sweltering heat which at times baked the earth to a temperature which prevented them from lying prone on the ground in the face of enemy fire. A Warrior Armoured Personnel Vehicle patrols through Babaji during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW  [Picture: Sgt Dan Harmer, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

[ A Warrior Armoured Personnel Vehicle patrols through Babaji during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW  ]

Slowly and decisively, the Battle Group continued to make progress across the area, securing compounds one by one, often battling through prolonged enemy fire. As they broke through the crust of enemy defences they found 55 dug-in IEDs, had 53 small arms and rocket-propelled grenade engagements and also faced a series of complex ambushes. The Battle Group sustained their own losses but the losses of the insurgents were much, much greater. Five days into the fight enemy resistance began to weaken as their command and control was decimated by the resilience of British and Afghan forces. The Afghan National Army, mentored by 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, played a key part in the operation, searching compounds and assisting the Afghan National Police with manning the recently captured crossing points.  As The Light Dragoons moved across the 'Panther's Claw Triangle', the insurgents were pushed further and further towards the Shamalan canal. On 10 July 2009, 3 SCOTS inserted 160 men on four Chinooks into the Babiji region, with the intention that they would clear another patch of land and expand their area of control to meet with The Light Dragoons Battle Group, who were still working their way down from Spin Masjed. Within hours of landing in enemy territory, the Scottish regiment found a large narcotics lab probably used to fund the insurgents' activities. A massive quantity of precursor chemicals and 5kg of a morphine-derivative substance that was one step away from becoming heroin were destroyed in situ by the Afghan Counter Narcotics Police. After 3 SCOTS had successfully linked up with The Light Dragoons, they combined and doubled their effort to drive deeper into the area. They began to see a subtle change in atmospherics with the local population welcoming the soldiers and willingly pointing out cleared routes and IEDs that they knew to be dug into the ground.  A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter lands during a re-supply to ground troops during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW  [Picture: Sgt Dan Harmer, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

[ A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter lands during a re-supply to ground troops during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW ]

On 20 July, the final air assault began the last phase of the operation, combined with an armoured thrust to clear any remaining Taliban fighters still loitering in the area in small numbers. Three thousand soldiers were involved in Operation PANTHER'S CLAW, with Afghan, Danish, Estonian and US contingents playing a crucial role. Together they have successfully cleared an area the size of the Isle of Wight; a region which had previously been under complete Taliban influence from where they had launched repeated attacks with relative impunity. Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander Task Force Helmand, said: "Our intention with this operation was, in the short term, to clear the area in advance of the presidential and provincial elections so that we could ensure that the Afghan people were free to exercise their democratic rights. In the longer term, it was to remove the insurgents and hold the region, alongside Afghan forces, to allow reconstruction and development to take place. "What we have achieved here is significant and I am absolutely certain that the operation has been a success. But I want to be clear about what that success means. It means that we have hit hard at the heart of the insurgency and we have weakened their structures and command. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh patrol through Babaji during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW  [Picture: Sgt Dan Harmer, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

[ Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh patrol through Babaji during Operation PANTHER'S CLAW  ]

"But I am aware that the effort in Helmand still has a long way to go. We have inflicted heavy losses on the insurgents, both physically and psychologically, and we have seen a number of them give up and flee the area as a result. But there will be some that simply melt back into the local population and so, for us, the threat continues to bubble beneath the surface.

PANTHER'S CLAW - the COs' diaries

A Military Operations news article 29 July 2009

Numerous British military units were involved in Operation PANTHER'S CLAW and here we publish the diaries of some of the Commanding Officers of the main Battle Groups ... The operation saw 3,000 British troops involved in the five-week operation which started on 20 June 2009 with a helicopter assault into the Babaji area by The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS), Battle Group. Their Commanding Officer (CO) tells their story below. The operation's story continues with the CO of Battle Group (Centre South), the CO of the Danish Battle Group, The Light Dragoons' CO, the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh CO talking about their involvement in the operation, and the 3 SCOTS CO talks about the operation's conclusion. The first air assault into a key drugs bazaar - 20 June 2009: 3 SCOTS Battle Group


[ Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright ]

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright, Commanding Officer of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright, Commanding Officer 3 SCOTS: "The Battle Group was privileged to be given the task of breaking into the Babaji area at the start of Operation PANTHER'S CLAW. We knew the enemy had laid an IED [improvised explosive device] screen to the north of the area so I decided to launch an audacious air assault of two aviation strike companies behind the insurgent forward defences. "To achieve tactical surprise, the Battle Group used ten Chinook helicopters and inserted 350 men at 3.30am on 20 June in one wave. It was very successful and we had occupied defensive positions of our own by first light. The remainder of the Battle Group, in armoured and wheeled vehicles, approached from the north to link up. However, the enemy were watching us and began their assaults from 7am targeting our positions with a mixture of small arms fire and rocket- propelled grenades. "These initial attacks delayed our link-up but we consolidated our positions and defeated the enemy with our ability to overmatch their weapon systems. Our snipers were particularly effective in these early hours, although we did require support from guided rockets and attack helicopters. B Company to the west secured the compounds that dominated the wadi crossing and A Company to the east cleared the drugs bazaar of 15 IEDs whilst under harassing fire.  "It was during this operation that an ANA [Afghan National Army] soldier, Wahid, was tragically killed by an IED as the company cleared to the extremities of the bazaar. Lance Corporal Stacey Quinn, a medic, was first on the scene, but despite her best efforts he died shortly after the explosion. Despite this setback, we successfully brought in our armoured vehicles, our logistics and the engineer equipment required to build the force protection. The aviation assault was supported by fast air, command helicopters and UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] and given its complexity was an overwhelming tactical success. "For the next four days we consolidated our bridgehead into the insurgent-held territory and pushed them further to the south. The Royal Engineers built a protective 'Hesco' bastion wall across the wadi to control the population and to prevent the insurgents from escaping to the north. It was quickly nicknamed 'Hadrian's Wall'. B Company began to establish their operating base by building up the fortifications. Sporadic attacks continued every day and although we were in a defensive posture, the companies pushed forward with aggressive patrols to afford us the initiative that is so vital for a defensive battle.  "On the second night, up to 30 insurgents assaulted A Company in the bazaar but were beaten back after a two-hour engagement. A conservative estimate would suggest that over half of their force was killed in this engagement alone. "C Company, in their Jackal vehicles, pushed to the west and seized the top of the Shamalan canal in preparation for the link-up with the Welsh Guards. They too had to deal with a determined and persistent enemy who realised that they were losing their dominance of the area. "After the engineer work had been completed, the majority of the Battle Group extracted to [Camp] Bastion, leaving B Company to cover the whole area with their 180 personnel. They dominated the area, constantly keeping the enemy on the back foot and won every engagement. More importantly they starting engaging with the local nationals to the north of the wadi and established positive dialogue with the aim of getting them to return to their homes as soon as the fighting had ceased. Our contribution ended when B Company handed over the area to No 2 Company Welsh Guards on 4 July."

[ Lieutenant Colonel Doug Chalmers ]

Lieutenant Colonel Doug Chalmers, Commanding Officer Battle Group (Centre South)  [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The push up the Shamalan canal - 25 June to 25 July 2009: Battle Group (Centre South)

Lieutenant Colonel Doug Chalmers, Commanding Officer Battle Group (Centre South): "Our battalion has responsibility for Battle Group (Centre South) which means we are responsible for the districts of Nad e-Ali and Lashkar Gah. HERRICK 10 has seen the area under the Government of Afghanistan's control within these districts grow considerably.  "Very early on in the tour a large ANA-led operation pushed the insurgents out of a town called Basharan and then kept them out. After a couple of days of fierce fighting the village was secured and has gone from strength to strength ever since. There is an increasing air of confidence in the village as they regain a sense of normality. "Within Nad e-Ali district centre the bazaar has continued to grow, with new shops opening every month. The residents, although still wary, have gained a degree of confidence in their future. They now believe us when we say that we are here to stay. Outside of the district centre there is insurgent activity but it is being mitigated by joint ANA, ANP [Afghan National Police] and ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] patrols. The fact that the farmers continue to work their fields and deliver a considerable amount of produce that includes vegetables and melons, indicates that they too have sufficient confidence to stay and work their land. "Less than a month ago in one of the opening moves of Operation PANTHER'S CLAW the ANP, assisted by the Prince of Wales's Company, moved rapidly north and secured the town of Chah-e Anjir. This is a large town that had effectively been under siege for over a year. The population is slowly gaining in confidence and we are starting to see the number of shops increase along with the variety of items for sale. It is early days but in several months it is likely to be at the same stage as the district centre is today. "More recently the Battle Group fought up the Shamalan canal to secure key crossings and prevent more insurgents flowing into the Babiji area. This has worked, and at the moment the farmers that work around these checkpoints have returned to their fields and started to interact with the ANA and ISAF soldiers on the canal. "These significant gains have been secured at a high cost in terms of lives and injuries to the Battle Group. But the sense of achievement is palpable and this does make the sacrifices easier to bear. We are now focused on deepening the confidence of the local residents in the areas that we have secured. They deserve a chance and we are giving it to them."

[ Colonel Frank Lissner ]

Colonel Frank Lissner, Commanding Officer of the Danish Battle Group  [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

Seizing the entry crossings along the Nahr-e-Burgha canal - 2 and 8 July: The Danish Battle Group


Colonel Frank Lissner, Commanding Officer of the Danish Battle Group: "Our role in Operation PANCHAI PALANG was to seize two of the crossing points along the Nahr-e-Burgha to allow The Light Dragoons Battle Group to enter an area which was under the de facto control of the insurgents. "Prior to PANCHAI PALANG, the insurgents in the region have skillfully and determinedly resisted any attempt by the Danish Battle Group to patrol in the area; both through fierce fighting and extensive use of improvised explosive devices, blocking all access points into the area. It had become a safe haven for the insurgents from where they launched attacks on both local Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF] checkpoints and objectives in Gereshk. "Soldiers from Battle Group Centre have, for the last year, both risked and lost lives patrolling in and around the operations area, and the Battle Group therefore very much welcomes the developments on the ground brought about by PANCHAI PALANG. This operation could indeed turn out to be the beginning of the end for the insurgents in central Helmand. "Following the cessation of fighting in the northern areas, most of the local population has now returned to their homes and have welcomed the ISAF forces in the area. Our task is now to assure enduring security within the area assisted by ANSF, local key leaders and the population."


[ Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair ]

Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair, Commanding Officer The Light Dragoons  [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The sweep across Spin Masjed & Babiji - 4 to 8 July and 10 to 14 July 2009: The Light Dragoons Battle Group 


Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair DSO, Commanding Officer The Light Dragoons: "The clearance of Malgir and Babaji was one of the final phases of Op PANCHAI PALANG and was very much dependant on the hard work put in across the rest of the brigade. Having effectively sealed off the Green Zone, with the Welsh Guards blocking the west, the Danes the north and the east, and A Squadron of Light Dragoons the south, The Light Dragoons Battle Group was tasked to clear the Green Zone of Taliban and free the local people from their intimidation and brutality. "This we have done. The Battle Group broke in through a bridgehead secured by the Danish Battle Group and fought its way south through determined enemy resistance. We subsequently cleared our way west, and have now cleared the enemy from Malgir and Babaji.  "This was the most intense fighting over a protracted period I have experienced in my 20 years in the Army. The men, women and equipment delivered more than we had any right to expect. The conditions could barely have been more testing and I am humbled by the extraordinary bravery, determination and resilience that I witnessed from soldiers ranging from the young female medic who walked every inch of the way to the 49-year-old TA WO2 [Territorial Army Warrant Officer Class 2] who ran a sniper team.  "As a result of this operation many more Afghans are now living under the control of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; people who were previously subject to the rule of the Taliban. They can now live without the fear of the Taliban visiting in the middle of the night; they have the freedom to vote in next month's elections; the chance to look forward to enjoying some of the rights and privileges that we are lucky enough to take for granted. "Progress such as this does not come for free, and we have paid a heavy price. The fierce fighting resulted in the deaths of Private Laws 2 MERCIAN [2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters)], Lance Corporal Elson 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, and Lance Corporal Dennis and Trooper Whiteside from The Light Dragoons. Four Afghan soldiers have also lost their lives fighting alongside us, and their commitment and dedication to their country's future should not be underestimated. The cost on the enemy should also not go unreported; we have comprehensively defeated the Taliban wherever we have found him, and his losses have been far in excess of ours. "Some will ask whether the progress is worth the cost. I can answer for everyone in my Battle Group when I answer with a resounding 'yes'. At the beginning of this tour, the Battle Group deployed to Garmsir, now under command of the US Marines. Many of the soldiers had fought there in 2007 as we battled the Taliban for control of the district centre. The progress we saw there was remarkable. Where we had once fought in a deserted and ruined town, there is now a burgeoning market and people are able to go about their day-to-day lives in peace. Wheat was being grown instead of poppy, and the people were able to determine their own future independent of either ISAF or Taliban control. "That progress is achievable in Babaji and Malgir, and already we are seeing people attending shuras with both ISAF and the local governance. However, the Taliban recognise the threat, and progress will not come without the continued efforts of the soldiers under my command and those that replace them. Some of them will give up their lives to achieve this, as will some Afghans we fight alongside, but we know that we owe it to those killed and injured over the last month, the people who we have liberated with the promise of a better life, and the people in the UK whose way of life we seek to defend, to ensure that we do not fail."


[ Major Nigel Crewe-Read ]

Major Nigel Crewe-Read, Officer Commanding C Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh  [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The armoured thrust through Babiji - 20 to 25 July 2009: C Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh 


Major Nigel Crewe-Read, Officer Commanding C Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh: "Accompanied by artillery from 52 (Niagara) Battery Royal Artillery, engineers from 11 Field Squadron Royal Engineers, IED clearance teams, and military-civilian reconstruction teams, we conducted a swift night move from Bastion to Forward Operating Base Price. As dawn came the company was escorted down through the areas that had been liberated from the Taliban. It was obvious that there had been quite a fight to achieve the earlier goals of PANTHER'S CLAW.  "Crossing the line of departure, everyone was braced for what could be a very bloody fight. Breaking off the main track to avoid IEDs, the Warriors began to move into the Helmand Green Zone. This was the first time Warriors had ever actually been taken into the complex terrain of the Green Zone which consists of many irrigation ditches, flooded fields, and sprawling compounds. Not easy terrain for 36 tonnes of armour to cross without becoming stuck. The lead platoon scouted a route ahead with the rest of the company following behind. Engineer support was integral to the company and proved useful in fording many of the ditches. Combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and attack helicopters co-ordinated by the artillery provided air cover and overwatch as the company swept forward. "The first objective, the village of Tabella, was reached at mid-day and the company formed up into assault formation. The time for the assault came and the Warriors surged forward across the open bazaar onto the objective. Meeting no enemy resistance, we dismounted from our vehicles and began to sweep through the village to check it was clear of insurgents. Conducting a thorough clearance took time, but by 1700 the village was deemed to be clear of insurgents. A local shura was then conducted with local Afghans to reassure them of ISAF's good intentions and that ISAF would remain in the area to provide security for them.  "At 0600 on the second day, 21 July, the clearance of the next village, Bahloy Kalay, started. This was an even bigger objective to clear than the previous village. Three platoons were tasked with this, and they made good progress through the intense heat of the Afghan day. Local Afghans greeted us and proved very friendly, offering us refreshments as well as passing us information and even lending a helping hand to repair a broken-down Warrior. By evening the village was clear of enemy fighters and a further 92 compounds had been cleared. Again, a shura was held at 1630 to reassure locals of ISAF intentions. "At 0530 on 22 July, the company handed over the secured villages to The Light Dragoons Battle Group and moved to clear a route from those villages up to the Welsh Guards Battle Group in the north west. The company moved down to a vast cemetery and then turned north to clear the route. Progress was measured as the company moved forward with dismounted patrols providing flank security, the IED clearance team working flat out, engineers providing essential support to cross large irrigation ditches, and the artillery co-ordinating the air cover. After a day of hard work the company paused overnight in a defensive position and then moved forward again at 0500 on 23 July. Progress continued to be made, and by 1800 the company had reached the Welsh Guards Battle Group, linking the two Battle Groups together. "Overall, although the operation had not involved any fighting, it was a great success. Locals stated that the Taliban had run away as soon as they saw the Warriors coming. A total of 198 compounds had been secured, 12km of Green Zone had been crossed in heavy armoured vehicles, and the area had been cleared of armed Taliban fighters, allowing the Government of Afghanistan's influence to begin in this area which had once been the heartland of insurgent resistance." The final air assault linked with the armoured thrust - 20 to 27 July 2009: 3 SCOTS Battle Group

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright, Commanding Officer 3 SCOTS: "It seemed apt that, having been involved at the very start of the British strike in Babaji, we should be allowed to take part in its finale. Once again, we were given enough Chinooks to lift the aviation element of the Battle Group in a single wave. As with our first Battle Group operation, the key lay in surprising the insurgents.  "The Battle Group for this operation consisted of Alpha (Grenadier) Company, 3 SCOTS; C Company, 2 R WELSH [2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh] mounted in Warrior fighting vehicles [their role mentioned above]; and Assaye Squadron, Light Dragoons, in armoured recce vehicles; 500 personnel and 60 vehicles. A Company swooped on the target area by Chinook, Charlie Company led an armoured punch in through the Green Zone (the first of its kind) from the east using Warrior armoured fighting vehicles. They were joined by Assaye Squadron. Our logistics tail followed up in Mastiff troop carriers and armoured trucks. "It became immediately clear that the brigade plan had been a huge success. The isolation of the area and the success of The Light Dragoons Battle Group's battle in the north east had taken its toll against the insurgents. Both the aviation assault and armoured manoeuvre avoided the expected IED screen and the remaining insurgents realised that they were completely overmatched by the combat power and melted into the Green Zone. The local population was initially cautious but slowly they realised that ISAF intended to stay in the area for good and became very helpful. In turn, we provided our doctor to start conducting medical clinics. The Light Dragoons even organised a football afternoon which attracted 30 youngsters.  "Further to the west in our operational area, A Company was dominating the insurgents' old ground. Shuras were arranged quickly and the relationships are developing well. The insurgents mounted a lame attack on the night of 24 July but they were quickly overwhelmed by A Company. C Company did a fantastic job of clearing a supply route north, linking us up to the Luy Mandah wadi that the Battle Group seized at the start of the operation. They found several IEDs laid waiting for them, which their attached bomb disposal officers destroyed in situ. "Tragically, our luck ran out on 25 July when my Fire Support Group, who had re-inserted into the area in Jackal vehicles, hit an IED. One soldier was killed and several others wounded. Another IED also caused injuries. The Fire Support Group had been searching for potential polling station locations for the presidential elections, underlining stark contrast between the aims of the Battle Group and the insurgents' aims in the area. Throughout the next 48 hours it became clear that there were insurgent IED teams operating in the area and several inadvertently killed themselves whilst laying devices. A Company continued to dominate the ground, understand the locals' concerns and kill insurgents, wherever they could find them. The Battle Group extracted by vehicle and Chinook early on 27 July. "It has been an immense operation; emotionally and physically exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. As the Regional Battle Group (South), I am delighted that 3 SCOTS have contributed so much to 19 Light Brigade's PANTHER'S CLAW. I am certain that everyone in the Battle Group will look back in a few years to an extraordinary operation when we did our jobs in the most demanding environment. The main factor of the success has been team work from the lowest infantry section to the whole brigade. I am very proud of my jocks, gunners, sappers, redcaps and signallers. Their contribution to the UK's summer offensive has been outstanding. The Battle Group's attention now turns to other operations in southern Afghanistan but we will never forget those that they gave their lives during this one."