At 3AM on Saturday the third of December, Colonel Abdul Sami and his elite unit of Special Forces soldiers from the National Interdiction Unit (NIU) departed from their Forward Operating Base in the vicinity of Qasaba to conduct another high level counter narcotics operation, as they had done hundreds of times before.
Though similar to so many missions before, this was a first for the highly trained unit; this would be their first fully unilateral, independent ground assault. With air-reconnaissance provided from their Afghan PC12 aircraft from the Special Mission Wing, the 71 soldiers approached their target under the cover of darkness in their Ranger vehicles.
The objective was a major cache of narcotics in the hills of Khak Jabar, located in the outskirts of Kabul. The Unit, trained and mentored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and International Narcotics Law Enforcement Agency (INL) were prepared to fight. Equipped with modern night vision goggles and well versed in conducting operations under the cloak of darkness, it soon became clear that this operation would not be the fight they had expected.
The NIU’s intelligence department had been tracking this criminal group from the time their illicit payload was harvested. The NIU knew that the criminal group had cached a significant amount of narcotics, and they expected them to defend it.
However, their stealthy approach had caught the criminals off guard. The local labourers and narcotics processors fled as the unit approached; they had not had time to alert their criminal masters. Knowing that those located on the target were simple labourers, the NIU allowed them to flee, and pushed onto their objective. The criminal masters had no time to react, and before they were ready to assault the Special Forces Unit, the NIU had seized the compound.
Across the six target areas on the objective, the NIU seized an incredible 61 tonnes of narcotics. ‘In the ten years since I have graduated from the Police Academy, and the 400 counter-narcotics operations I have participated in, I have come to see the relationship between these criminal organisations and the enemies of Afghanistan. It is clear to me that one feeds the other.’ Colonel Abdul Sami added, ‘the seizure of such a significant amount will have an enormous affect on the operational capability of our enemies’.
The success of the operation is expected to cost the enemies of Afghanistan approximately $12.2 million in criminal revenue. But most importantly, it has deprived the enemies of Afghanistan of the weapons they use to shoot civilians, the bombs they use to indiscriminately attack anyone in their way, and the manpower that they use to destroy homes, farms, and public services.
The brave men of the National Interdiction Unit have stood on their own feet, they have taken the training from our international partners, and they have completed an operation of enormous success that will make a tangible difference to the security of the people of Afghanistan, of the Region, and of the world. They deserve the highest praise of the Afghan people.
In order for Afghanistan to stand on its own feet, all Afghans must work together, like the brave men of the NIU. Colonel Abdul Sami appealed for help: ‘we can only do our duty effectively with the assistance of the Afghan people. We rely on them for information and cooperation, and we rely on them to the right thing by their families, and their communities, by helping us rid our country of this plague’.