Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Tea 'is key weapon' against Taliban

Major Nick Wight-Boycott talks to an Afghan National Police commander in a compound next to Patrol Base Attal in Helmand Province

Drinking chai - tea - is a key weapon in the fight against the insurgency in Afghanistan, a senior Army officer has said.

Major Nick Wight-Boycott has spent much of the past six months building relationships with the Afghan police and local people.

The commanding officer of Delta Company, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 Scots), believes his social visits have paid off.

The police used to be ill-disciplined but the major says they are now an effective force against the Taliban. The locals used to complain of corruption but now they come forward with information about IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and the insurgency.

Major Nick, as he is known to the Afghans, has been in charge of training and mentoring the police along a 40km stretch of road known as route 601, which runs north east of Lashkar Gah.

In the police compound next door to Patrol Base Attal, Major Wight-Boycott he drinks chai with the new police commander, Lieutenant Hekmatullah.

The Lieutenant remarks that his men were out on an ambush the night before but did not catch any insurgents.

"Sometimes the best operations are those where nothing happens. Now the insurgents know that your men are out at night and they will be scared of moving around," Major Wight-Boycott tells him, pleased that the police are going out on operations independently.

It took weeks to build a relationship with the commander and Major Nick-Boycott fears his departure could put them "back to square one".

He said: "With the ANP (Afghan National Police) it's all about leadership and showing them the right example. If you take the time to work with them it provides dividends. The main thing is for Isaf to keep stepping back and the ANP to keep stepping forward."

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