Military Wiki
Operation Sond Chara
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)
Operation Red Dagger 01.JPEG
Royal Marines during Operation Red Dagger
Date11–26 December 2008
LocationHelmand Province, Afghanistan
Result Coalition victory
 United Kingdom,
Afghanistan Afghan National Army (ANA)
Afghanistan Taliban insurgents
Commanders and leaders
United KingdomBrigadier Gordon Messenger RM ?
UK: 1,500
ANA: ?
Denmark: ?
Estonia: ~140 (total size of regiment deployed in Afghanistan)
Casualties and losses
5 killed (UK) 100 killed (+1 senior commander) (NATO claim)

Operation Sond Chara (Red Dagger in Pashto) was an 18-day-long campaign with its aims and objectives centred around four Taliban strongholds near the town of Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The operation was named after the commando patch worn by members of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. 1,500 British troops were involved, supported by Danish, Estonian and Afghan forces in the pre-Christmas offensive, commencing on 7 December 2008 with a night attack on Taliban defences in a village south of the operational area. The offensive was aimed to make safe the area around the capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah, after an increase of insurgent attacks in the province, for example, the 300 man Taliban attempt to overrun Lashkar Gah. As well as helping to secure a planned voter registration programme. The hard fought battles were against well-armed insurgents, who held fast and retaliated with 107mm Rockets but eventually withdrew under a barrage of British mortar, tank, and missile weapons. British Troops were fighting "knee-deep in mud during First World War-style trench battles.[1]" Some sections of the Marines involved, fought while advancing over 60 km under fire and in poor conditions. CQB fighting was common, and some commanders reported fighting at ranges of 30 metres or less.

By its climax on 25 December 2008, 100 Taliban fighters, one reportedly a senior commander, were killed. By the end of the offensive five British soldiers, including an Australian serving with British forces, had been killed.[2]

After a raid south of Lashkar Gah, £2 million worth of opium was found, alongside IEDs and other assorted drugs and explosives.

Brigadier Gordon Messenger, commander of Task Force Helmand, classes the campaign as "very successful".

In respect of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, a two-day ceasefire starting on 8 December 2008 was upheld.

Recommencing operations on 11 December, 42 Commando Royal Marines attacked both from the ground and the air on Nad-e-Ali, securing an area which had been an insurgent stronghold. Commandos backed by the 2nd Battalion The Princesses of Wales's Royal Regiment and the Afghan National Army attacked and captured the town of Shin Kalay, west of Lashkar Gah. K Company (Black Knights) fought in the trenches surrounding area force the withdrawal of the insurgents. Whilst Royal Engineers found their efforts to build patrol bases hampered by the poor weather, heavy rain turning the ground into a sea of mud.

Lima Company, 42 Commando saw the most ferocious close quarter fighting during the 360 degree battle for Zarghun Kalay, north west of Lashkar Gah, on 17 December. They were supported by Juliet Company during the following days.

By the end of the operation the Marines of Lima Company Group had covered over 60 km on foot in the most arduous conditions. Involved in intense fire fights by day, and ‘yomping’ (walking) by night, the Marines slept rough, eating wherever and whenever they could for 17 days.

Troops involved

The following troops were involved in the operation [3]

  • A Squadron and 1 Troop C Sqn QDG
  • United Kingdom Land Forces Command Support Group (UKLF CSG)
  • Armoured Support Group Royal Marines
  • Estonian Company (Including Mortar Troop)
  • (B Coy (Armoured Personnel Carriers)
  • Royal Danish Engineers Regiment
  • Combat Engineers Section

See also


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