Battle of Baghak

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The controversial Battle of Baghak was an engagement during the War in Afghanistan between elements of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), the Afghani National Directorate of Security (NDS) and insurgent forces near Dahane Baghak in the Shikari Valley, Bamyan Province on 4 August 2012.

Two NZDF personnel, four NDS members and an undetermined number of insurgent fighters were killed during the engagement. A further 6 NZDF personal and 9 NDS members were wounded along with one Afghan civilian and one Afghan national police officer.

Battle[edit]

At approximately 0800 hours on 4 August 2012, Kiwi Company elements were informed by the National Directorate of Security personnel that the NDS had undertaken an operation earlier that morning to detain a number of suspected insurgents. The NDS informed the Kiwi Company elements that the NDS had suffered a number of casualties.

The NZDF Commanding Officer approved a request by the Officer Commanding to deploy a three vehicle HUM-V patrol named KT4 to the scene to assist the NDS in all possible ways. KT1 and KT2 which were both three vehicle Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) based elements also deployed to support KT4.

KT4 arrived at the scene at 0946 hours. They found that one NDS member had been killed and 6 NDS personal were wounded. Lance Corporal Baker performed extremely well in a sole capacity medical role in treating the NDS wounded while they were evacuated by the New Zealand troops. However one of the 6 NDS wounded died of his wounds at the scene. Members of the Kiwi company then commenced a dismounted clearance operation of a compound and the surrounding high ground surrounding the contact site assisted by the NDS. A 14 man team made up the dismounted patrol. KT2 was on scene providing over-watch with the KT4 vehicles during the clearance operation. KT1 were providing a firm base at the Dahane Baghak Truckstop 500 metres to the south. The NDS also commenced their own clearance operation at the same time of the high ground.

At 12.27 hours, shortly after the arrival of KT3 with the officer commanding Insurgent forces engaged the New Zealand patrols and vehicles on the road. Upon receiving word of contact KT1 mounted up and traveled to the contact area. The KT1 commander did not know of the clearance operation being carried out by a patrol. KT3 also had little information of the situation prior to the engagement and didn't know of the positions of KT4. The LAVs of KT2 started firing on suspected insurgent positions on the high ground and was then joined by KT1. KT3 received sporadic insurgent fire. All 8 NZPRT casulties, those killed and those wounded including the OC wounded, occurred in the space of 12 minutes where the heaviest fighting happened. KT1 started firing on positions occupied by the NZ clearance patrol believing that the high ground was occupied by insurgents and that there were no friendlies on the high ground. Two NZ soldiers were wounded by the 25mm cannons on the LAVs receiving shrapnel wounds. One of the wounded had received a gunshot wound prior to insurgent fire. A further 1 NDS member was killed and 3 NDS wounded in this time.

Throughout the afternoon while casualties were being evacuated further smaller engagements occurred leading to one NDS member killed and one wounded. Along with one Afghan civilian wounded and 1 Afghan National police officer wounded. Most of casualties were evacuated by US Army Aero-medical Evacuation (AME) from a Casualty Collection Post established 600m South of the contact site at 1426 hours. The last two remaining New Zealand casualties were winched off the high ground at 1558 hours.

At 1605 hours a USAF F-18 Super hornet reported seeing a group of 16 Insurgents moving East away from the contact sight carrying their dead and wounded.

Aftermath[edit]

The battle of Baghak resulted in 8 New Zealand casualties, 13 NDS casualties, 2 civilian casualties and an unknown number of Insurgent casualties. 4 NDS personal were killed. Lance Corporal Malone and Lance Corporal Durrer were the 2 New Zealand soldiers killed in action. Malone received a wound to his right leg which was not treated. He later received a 7.62mm round likely from an AK47 through his left arm and left side. Malone died instantly. Durrer was treated in the back of an LAV. His wounds were determined as non-survivable. He later died on route to hospital in US Army AME.

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