The Royal Irish Regiment in Afghanistan - 2010/2011

Ranger 1 R IRISH Battle Group confirms presence IED
A Ranger of the 1 R IRISH Battle Group confirms the presence of an Improvised Explosive Device. Improvised explosive devices, buried into roads and foot paths are one of the most significant threats to soldiers in Afghanistan.

Operation Herrick 13

The Royal Irish Regiment's third major deployment to Afghanistan came in 2010. The 1st Battalion, again reinforced by the 2nd Battalion, deployed into the Nad-e 'Ali District of Helmand Province as Combined Force Nad-e 'Ali South, taking over from the 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

This audio clip is included by kind permission of RTE. The full version of the programme, made by Fergal McCarthy and Ciaran Cassidy, can be heard by clicking on RTE Documentary

2 October 2010 – 26 March 2011

After the 2010-2011 tour the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion wrote the following:

“Few of us will easily forget those first few days and weeks in Nad-e’Ali in October and November 2010 when we were in constant and bloody contact with a determined enemy, or the sense in December and January that the tide was turning and that something really significant and positive was happening.

By the time we reached the closing days of the tour, our success on the battlefield had made a difference to ordinary people’s lives: the Red Wedge and Nawabad were clear; Shin Kalay was quiet; Kushal Kalay and the centre - south belt were thriving; Saidabad was cleared of Taliban and the bazaar was open; only the most foolhardy Taliban operated in Zaborabad; the Afghan Local Police were established.

I used to say that as Irish Infantrymen, we knew that insurgencies and their counter-insurgencies would take a long time to play through to their conclusion. So a definitive assessment of our success or otherwise is impossible to make this close to the end of the operation. Only when the ripples of our actions have swept over the forthcoming weeks and months will we know how history might judge our effort over the past winter in Helmand. Indeed it is clear that history is unforgiving.

Each six month deployment of a British Brigade in Helmand has been characterised, and historians and journalists have tended to focus on the sharp changes of direction between each Brigade, and the stark shifts in each of their emphases. So all we can do on our return, and so close to the end of the operation - to use a phrase of our Brigade Commander - is to relate how the thing ‘felt’ for us.

What is clear to me is that together, the Rangers, the Jocks, the Troopers, the Gunners, and the Sappers (of the 1st Battalion’s Battle Group) achieved a significant tactical defeat of the Taliban on the battlefield. In doing so you created an opportunity. That is an opportunity that only the Afghans can properly exploit. The door is open for them because you forced it open. Your bravery, determination, restraint, compassion and comradeship was awe-inspiring.

Faugh A Ballagh

Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir DSO MBE
Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment Battlegroup