by Major Wayne Hennessy-Barrett, Small Wars Journal
Infantry rifle companies on operations today are increasingly likely to find themselves operating independently and in isolation from the traditional brigade and battle group context for which they normally prepare. Depending on the role and terrain, this can present significant challenges in terms of resources, mission command and operational design. No 1 Company 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards found itself in such a position during Operation HERRICK 7 in the role of Kabul Patrols Company operating from Camp Souter (STR). With a very different mission and environment from Task Force Helmand (TFH) the Company had the role of ensuring the security of the UK base and all force elements and dependants in the capital. It was also the operations company for the Multinational Regional Command-Capital (RC-C) in the city, with few other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) elements able to operate in their mandated Areas of Operation (AOs). Tasks ranged from the expected intelligence-led Counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in the city to providing Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and deliberate support to UK and allied specialist agencies and other government departments.
In direct support of these tasks No. 1 Company had an intelligence cell responsible for fusing products from allies and agencies to produce the tactical J2 and situational awareness picture for the city of Kabul and much of the Northern Afghanistan AO on behalf of all UK force elements in the city.
Having prepared rigorously for the Battle Group Centre role in Gereshk we were re-tasked and had three weeks to re-orientate to urban skills and attempt to understand the cultural and contextual differences between Kabul and Helmand. At this point we had no tactical or intelligence picture other than that gleaned from a 2-day theatre reconnaissance. The lessons learned during the deployment drove the development of the tactics, techniques and procedures as well as processes described here. Although shaped by the Kabul patrols role, it is hoped these lessons will be of use to company commanders elsewhere.