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Michael Yon has a great new article up on a recent top-secret 10-day mission in Afghanistan that is supposedly the largest British logistics operation since World War II.

The mission was the delivery of a second electric turbine to the Kajaki Dam, the second-largest hydro-electric dam in Afghanistan. The trip to Kajaki Dam required the Brit convoy to travel through the heart of Taliban territory.

The convoy of about 200 vehicles included seven absolutely critical trailers, along with an eighth trailer that was not absolutely critical, just extremely important. That trailer contained an 80-ton crane for lifting the other seven parts off their trailers. If the crane were destroyed, the engineers could make a work-around using “Foden” trucks but that would be fraught with risks and cost precious time.

The loss of any one of the seven critical trailers would constitute mission failure. A second mission of equal magnitude could be attempted, but it would probably have to wait until spring. Read Where Eagles Dare

The Trip:

Nearly 4,000 ISAF troops from the UK, US, Canada, Denmark, Australia and the Afghan National Army were involved in the 360km round trip operation to deliver a hydro-electric turbine from Kandahar Airfield to the Kajaki dam in the north of Helmand province. The mission was kept a tightly guarded secret, with a media blackout in place, to prevent the Taliban gaining any intelligence on the operation which could endanger the lives of the troops involved.

The convoy took 6 days to get to Kajaki and 6 days for all its elements to get back but ISAF’s Forces were on the ground well before the convoy had even finished loading its precious, 200 tonne, cargo.

The Cargo:

The new turbine is capable of producing 18.5MW of economically viable, renewable energy, which will be in addition to the dam’s current 16.5MW output. The additional electricity it will eventually provide will light up classrooms, allowing Afghans across southern Afghanistan learn to read and write in evening classes; Farmers to store their produce in chilled storage, allowing greater export opportunities for the booming wheat markets; and clinics that will be able to offer improved health services.

The Deception:

US and Canadian troops had secured the first half of the journey from Kandahar Airfield along Highway 1. The Taliban expected it to take Route 611, which turns off of Highway 1 and runs all the way to the Kajaki dam. However, after turning off early into a secret rendezvous location a British force protection convoy from Camp Bastion took over responsibility for the convoy and guided it along route “Harriet”, a Top Secret route discovered by the British Forces. A deception plan was hatched and whilst the turbine convoy travelled cross-desert towards the remote “Ghorak pass”, British, Danish and Afghan troops secured parts of route 611, seemingly to prepare for receiving the convoy. The Taliban fell for the deception and by the time the turbine convoy emerged from the Ghorak pass, only a few kilometres from its destination, the Taliban had been unable to organise any real resistance.


Sadly, one British soldier was injured at Kajaki when he was run over by a vehicle and one Canadian soldier lost his life as the convoy was making its way back down route Harriet when his vehicle was struck by an IED.

Related Reading:
  • Michael Yon on Afghanistan
  • Why Afghanistan is Different Than Iraq
  • 10,000 Foreign Fighters in Pakistan
  • Is Kashmir the Key to Stability in the Middle East?
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