Troops Pull Off Huge Afghanistan Power Mission

4 September 2008 (Last Updated September 4th, 2008 18:30)

Around four thousand British, NATO and Afghan troops have combined to successfully transport a huge hydroelectric power turbine through Taliban territory in Southern Afghanistan. The $6m turbine was transported to the Kajaki hydroelectric plant and will bring power to an extr

Around four thousand British, NATO and Afghan troops have combined to successfully transport a huge hydroelectric power turbine through Taliban territory in Southern Afghanistan.

The $6m turbine was transported to the Kajaki hydroelectric plant and will bring power to an extra 1.9 million people in the area.

The convoy, which travelled the length of the Helmand valley, consisted of fifty Viking armoured vehicles, fuel trucks and eight heavy equipment transporters needed to carry the Chinese-made turbine.

Protection from the air was provided by British Harrier jump jets and Apache helicopters, as well as French, Dutch and American aircraft. Unmanned drones were used to scout the area ahead for insurgents.

Infantry troops covered both sides of the route and Royal Engineers where up front to clear bombs and strengthen the road.

Royal Horse Artillery Lt Col James Learmont said that they had tricked the Taliban into thinking they where heading straight up the valley, whilst they made use of a desert track instead.

Now that the turbine has been delivered to Kajaki, work can now begin on the turbine's installation and the rejuvenation of the electrical distribution network needed to distribute power to areas of Sangin, Musa Qaleh, Kandahar and the provincial capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah.

The turbine is capable of producing 18.5MW of economically viable, renewable energy, which will be in addition to the dam's current 16.5MW output.

Spokesman for Taskforce Helmand, Lt Col David Reynolds said that the military operation demonstrated that the strategy of delivering civil infrastructure to southern Afghanistan was making progress.

"Ultimately success in Afghanistan is about more than defeating the Taliban or the absence of fighting. It's also about creating jobs, security and economic development," said Reynolds.

By Daniel Garrun.