American Forces Press Service

British Troops Assist in 'Mountain Lion' Operations

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2002 - A detachment of 1,700 British marines are assisting U.S. and other coalition troops in the continuing search for al Qaeda forces in eastern Afghanistan, senior DoD officials said today.

Since April 15, British troops have been engaged in Operation Ptarmigan, the name given their share of military actions with U.S. and coalition forces in the Gardez and Khost regions, DoD spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. John Rosa Jr. told Pentagon reporters. The name of the overall coalition action is Operation Mountain Lion. A ptarmigan is a wild alpine-Arctic bird.

Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, had requested the British troops, Rosa said. However, he noted, American and British are not the only forces involved in Mountain Lion.

"There are several coalition folks in that region," Rosa remarked, adding that 31 countries are assisting Frank's U.S. Central Command in the war against global terrorism.

Citing security concerns, Rosa would not elaborate on the numbers of U.S. and other coalition troops involved in Mountain Lion. He also would not discuss enemy numbers, location or activities.

"If I told you exactly what the enemy was doing and exactly where they are ... that wouldn't be that smart," he remarked.

DoD spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told reporters that the British assistance -- and other U.S. allies' involvement in Mountain Lion -- is an example of the "extraordinary" support provided by coalition forces in the war against global terrorism.

Clarke also identified the four U.S. soldiers killed April 15 near Kandahar during ordnance-clearing operations. Three of the soldiers killed, Staff Sgt. Brian T. Craig of Texas, 27, and Staff Sgt. Justin J. Galewski, 28, and Sgt. Jamie O. Maugans, 27, both from Kansas, were members of the 710th Explosive Ordnance Detachment in San Diego. The fourth soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel A. Romero of Colorado, 30, was assigned to the 19th Special Forces Group in Pueblo, Colo.

Clarke and Rosa offered their condolences to the soldiers' families and other loved ones. "Our prayers go out to their families," Clarke said.

Investigation of the accident continues, Rosa said. Unexploded land mines and other military ordnance -- much left over from the 1980s Soviet occupation -- abound in Afghanistan, he noted.

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