USS Vella Gulf: Pirate Hunter
Visit, board, search and seizure team members from the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf close in on rigid-hulled inflatable boats to apprehend suspected pirates. Nine suspected pirates were apprehended and brought aboard Vella Gulf. This is the second group of suspected pirates apprehended in a 24-hour period by Vella Gulf; there are currently 16 suspected pirates apprehended. Vella Gulf is the flagship for Combined Task Force 151, a multi-national task force conducting counterpiracy operations to detect and deter piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky (2/12/2009)
Afghanistan Progress and Updates + Pirates in the Gulf of Aden
Sgt. Stryker here. According to U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases, Afghan forces, aided by coalition troops, have seen a lot of action in their continuing mission of making Afghanistan safe.
February 25, 2009 in Afghanistan:
In Kandahar province, Afghan National Police and coalition forces detained six suspected militants.
In the provinceâ€™s Maywand district, combined forces conducted an operation to disrupt a bomb network that targeted coalition forces and facilitated the entry of foreign fighters into the province.
During the operation, forces called for noncombatants to exit the buildings. All women and children were moved to a safe location, and forces questioned the military-aged men. Six suspected insurgents were detained while forces protected 13 women and 14 children.
February 24, 2009 in Afghanistan:
Afghan National Army and coalition forces killed 10 militants in the Shaheed Hasas district of Afghanistanâ€™s Oruzgan province. The combined forces were conducting a routine patrol when they came under small-arms, mortar and rocket-propelled-grenade fire. They returned fire, killing a militant.
After ensuring no noncombatants were in the area, the combined forces called in a precision strike, which killed nine insurgents. Afghan soldiers also seized a weapons cache containing bomb-making materials and machine gun ammunition.
No Afghan soldiers, coalition forces or noncombatants were injured.
February 23, 2009 in Afghanistan
Soldiers from the Afghan National Army, aided by coalition forces, killed 16 militants in Afghanistanâ€™s Helmand province. The combined forces were conducting a routine patrol when their convoy came under heavy small-arms fire. The forces responded with small-arms fire. The militants then began firing mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
As the threat escalated, the forces responded with several precision strikes to kill the militants. Prior to the strikes, the forces assured there were no noncombatants in the area. Following the strike, the Afghan National Army cleared the compound from which the militants had been firing. The combined forces discovered bomb-making materials, which they destroyed in place.
No Afghan or coalition forces or noncombatant casualties were reported, according to U.S. officials.
Progress in Afghanistan
Members of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team safely destroyed approximately 1,600 pounds of munitions and other explosives used to make improvised explosive devices at a range near Kandahar Air Field earlier this week. Most of these munitions were found in or near Kandahar city.
“Kandaharis are increasingly playing a role in security of their region. Safe destruction of these IEDs by professionals is another success for the security of the city because in such incidents the victims are always civilians,â€ said the Governor of Kandahar province, Tooryalai Wesa.
“In the last 2 months, through the support of Kandaharis and the Afghan national police, we have taken these munitions off the streets of Kandahar,” explained Lieutenant-Colonel Carl Turenne, commanding officer of the KPRT. “This safe destruction of IEDs is a demonstration of the greater trust that Kandaharis are placing in the local security forces, and underlines the importance of cooperation with the local police.”
Recent statistics show that for every ten IEDs placed in Kandahar City, nine are found and safely dealt with by Afghan national security forces or ISAF personnel. Throughout the province as a whole, more than 60 percent of IEDs are found before they can harm innocent Afghans.
“By reporting possible IEDs, Kandaharis are removing possibly the greatest threat to the safety and security of their families. At the same time, this cooperation showcases the important and growing relationship Kandaharis have with their local police and coalition forces,â€ said Brigadier General Matiullah Khan, Kandahar chief of police. â€œBy working together, we can all help to reduce the risk of innocent civilians being injured or killed,â€ he said.
The ANP and KPRT are proud to be working together to bring an increasingly safe and secure environment to the people of Kandahar, thereby helping Afghans create the conditions for economic growth and development in their region.
Pirates Thwarted in Gulf of Aden
According to news releases, the Danish flexible support ship HDMS Absalon successfully deterred an attempted pirate attack on the Chinese M/V Yandanghai around 1:30 p.m, February 26, 2009.
Absalon closed on the coordinates given by the Chinese ship following their distress call and spotted a skiff matching the description given by the captain of the motor vessel. A Danish boarding team boarded the suspected skiff and found several weapons, including a rocket-propelled grenade, four AK-47 assault rifles, two grenades and a knife. The weapons were cataloged and confiscated.
The suspected pirates were unable to board the vessel due to evasive measures taken by the shipâ€™s crew who engaged their fire hoses to keep the suspected pirates a safe distance from the ship. According to Yandanhaiâ€™s captain, two of the motorvesselâ€™s crew sustained minor injuries during the attack.
This is Sgt. Stryker (Land/Sea/Air) signing out