Operation Enduring Freedom - Deployments
In early November 2001 a US-led team including representatives from the UK, Turkey, Canada and the Netherlands, was inspecting former Soviet bases in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan as possible US bases.
Japan, Germany, Italy and New Zealand had pledged to deploy ships and troops if needed. Turkey and Australia had announced that special operations forces would be deployed. Italy announed in early November 2001 that ships and aircraft, and up to 3,000 military personnel, would be deployed. The 3,900 Germans planned on deployement would include some 100 special operations troops.
Operation Veritas was the UK's contribution to the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, which began on 7 October 2001. UK Forces participated in the military operation against Usama Bin Laden's Al Qaida terrorist organisation and against the Taliban regime harbouring them in Afghanistan since the start of operations.
Three Royal Navy nuclear-powered Fleet Submarines of the Swiftsure and Trafalgar classes were deployed for the start of operations. These were HMS Superb, HMS Trafalgar and HMS Triumph. The latter pair were equipped with the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile system. Royal Navy TLAMs were fired on the first night of operations against Al Qaida and the Taliban on 7/8 October 2001, and again on 13 October 2001. A submarine presence was to be maintained in the area whilst operations continued. A Royal Navy task group had been retained in the area. The task group also had a number of helicopters embarked.
As of early November 2001, Marines from the 3 Commando Brigade, the Army's mountain and winter warfare specialists were assigned. This included 200 Marines in the Gulf area aboard the HMS Fearless, and 400 marines who were on high alert ready to deploy from Britain. A total of 4,200 British troops including support staff, along with ships, submarines and warplanes, remained in the Gulf, despite earlier plans to send them home after the conclusion of military exercises in Oman. In addition, Royal Marines from 40 Commando had been assigned to the operation. The Commando would be retained in the UK at high readiness to deploy, with lead elements embarked in the naval task group to offer immediate support if required.
RAF Tristar and VC-10 tanker aircraft from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire had been deployed to support the operation. Other RAF aircraft supporting the operation included: sophisticated E-3D Sentry AEW.1 surveillance and control aircraft from RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire; Nimrod R.1 surveillance aircraft, also from Waddington; Nimrod MR.2 maritime reconnaissance aircraft from RAF Kinloss; and Canberra PR.9 reconnaissance aircraft from RAF Marham, Norfolk.
The Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon MP, confirmed in the House of Commons on 19 December 2001 that the UK had formally offered to lead an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to assist the new Afghan Interim Authority with the provision of security and stability in Kabul.
As of mid-March 2002 a contingent of up to 1,700 British soldiers was deploying to Afghanistan to join US forrces fighting against Al Qaeda. The first elements of this force began arriving at Bagram Air Base in late March 2002.
As of mid-November 2001 Australia had committed 1,500 troops, maritime surveillance aircraft, a guided missile frigate and F/A-18 fighter-bombers. Forces arriving in theater by mid-November 2001 included 4 Hornet F/A-18 strike aircraft, 2 AP-3C long range aircraft and 2 Boeing 707 mid-air refueling aircraft.
Canada had deployed the frigate HMCS Halifax in the Gulf. Canada also promised to contribute 6 ships, 6 aircraft (including surveillance and transport planes), and some 2,000 soldiers.
France had 2,000 military personnel in the region as of early November 2001. As of 7 November 2001 a total of 1,200 navy troops, 200 air force staff, 100 logistics staff and 500 military intelligence officers were engaged, including personnel operating out of France. Aircraft included Mirage IVP reconnaissance jets and a Transall Gabriel plane equipped with electronic surveillance equipment. The French aircraft carrier, the Charles-de-Gaulle, deployed from Toulon for the north of the Indian Ocean, on 1 December 2001. It crossed the Suez Canal on 11 December 2001. Articulated around the aircraft carrier, the air and sea group also included the anti-aircraft frigate Jean Bart, the anti-submarine frigates Jean de Vienne and the La Motte-Piquet, the supply tanker Meuse and the nuclear attack submarine Rubis. The Charles-de-Gaulle embarked 16 Super-Etendard (reconaissance and assault), 2 Rafale (air superiority), and 2 Hawkeye (air surveillance). The air and sea group, in addition to the support for the ground actions in Afghanistan, would take part in the maritime patrol of the zone, in order to avoid the exfiltration of terrorist leaders by sea. The French designated the force Combined Task Force 473 (CTF-473). A total of up to 5,000 French servicemen were thought to have been sent to the region to participate in the military operation in Afghanistan. An electronic surveillance vessel, the 4,870-ton converted supply ship Bougainville, was in the region collecting intelligence. As of early March 2002, CTF 473 was composed of the De Gaulle, the frigates Jean Bart, De Grasse, and La Motte-Picquet, the Tanker Somme, and the Nuclear Attack Submarine Rubis.
A French task force composed of soldiers from the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment deployed on 17 November 2001, to survey the the modalities of operations aimed at repairing the airfield at Mazar-e Sharif. Deployement of additional French personnel tasked with securing the outside perimeter of the airfield began on 1 December 2001.
On 28 November 2001 CENTCOM Commander General Tommy R. Franks stated that additional attack aircraft from the United States and France (and possibly other nations) would be sent to Central Asia in early December 2001. Kyrgyzstan was reportedly the most likely base for most of the aircraft. France reportedly requested permission to base 6 Mirage-2000 multi-purpose fighter bombers, 2 C-130 tanker aircraft and 200 technicians in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. On 27 February 2002, 6 French Mirage 2000 multirole combat fighter aircraft arrived at Manas International Airport in Kyrgyzstan, to fly fighter and reconnaissance missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They returned to France on 4 October 2002, after participating with French carrier-based aircraft in support of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom. French fighters conducted more than 10 percent of sorties over Afghanistan. The 6 Mirage 2000Ds had been stationed at Ganci Air Base, Manas, Kyrgyzstan, along with two C-135FR (KC-135F) tanker aircraft.
On 7 November 2001 Italy's parliament approved the deployment of 2,700 soldiers, including combat troops, to the operation in Afghanistan. Available troops, not yet deployed, included an armored regiment with 390 men, 122 members of the Engineers Corps, demining units, a company of 116 soldiers specialized in chemical defense, a logistics unit and a company from the elite paratrooper's regiment Tuscania. A total of 10 airplanes were to be deployed, including 6-10 Tornado reconnaissance aircraft, a Boeing 707 refuelling plane, and a C-130 transport plane. Italy would make available 4 Mangouste A129 armed reconnaisance helicopters. On 18 November 2001, the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi (C-551) deployed with 8 Harriers, 4 Sea King helicopters and 1,400 troops embarked. The carrier was accompanied by the frigates Zeffiro (F-577) and Aviere (F-583) and the supply ship Etna (A-5326).
Three Japanese MSDF vessels, the 5,200-ton destroyer Kurama, the 4,550-ton destroyer Kirisame and the 8,100-ton supply ship Hamana, were initially involved in information-gathering, leaving Japan on 9 November 2001 under provisions of the Defense Agency Establishment Law. This was Japan's first military contingent since World War II to be deployed in support of forces in combat. In late November 2001 the supply ship Towada, the minesweeper Uraga and the destroyer Sawagiri left Japan to join 3 other warships sent earlier in November 2001 to monitor shipping lanes. The Japanese force was stationed at the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Initially the SDF had planned to send the 7,250-ton Kongo, an Aegis-equipped ship with more powerful air-defense capabilities as the flotilla's flagship. Japan decided not to deploy an Aegis destroyer after some lawmakers argued that to do so would violate the constitution. The 4 month mission, returning at the end of March 2002, was shorter than the 6 month deployment envisioned in the initial plan. The initial plan provided for the deployment of of 3 destroyers, 2 supply ships, 6 transport planes and 2 multipurpose planes for up to 6 months.
The German government approved the deployment of up to 3,900 soldiers, and additional naval forces, contingent on the approval of the German parliament. This represented the first deployment of German forces outside Europe since World War II. On 27 November 2001 Germany began participating in operations. Three Transall transport aircraft departed from the US base at Ramstein, Germany to Incilik, Turkey, in order to assist the US Air Force in its operations in Afghanistan. About 500 air-crew personnel were deployed for aerial shipments of troopsand material aboard C-160 Transall transport planes. A few days later reconnaissance commandos flew to Bahrain to prepare for naval deployment. Up to 100 troops from the Special Commando Forces (KSK), a unit specialized in covert operations, were potentially slated to make short-term missions in Afghanistan. Future co-operation with the German navy, included the allocation of areas of deployment of the US, French and German navies to patrol waters between the Arabian Peninsula and the east African coast. Naval forces of up to 1,800 soldiers have been requested. Breguet 1150 Atlantic reconnaissance planes for sea surveillance and searchand rescue operations were also to be used.
On 7 January 2002 the Canadian National Defense Ministry announced the deployment of 750 troops from the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI) Battle Group that would deploy to Kandahar as part of a US Army task force by mid-February 2002. 3 PPCLI Battle Group was a light, fully mobile force designed to respond quickly to overseas missions, making it well suited for evolving operations. It was composed of two rifle companies from 3 PPCLI along with the appropriate support elements, and was joined by a reconnaissance squadron from the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) using Coyote light armoured reconnaissance vehicles, which included high tech surveillance and long-range detection systems. Both units were based in Edmonton. Their mission would include a number of tasks ranging from security operations to allow for humanitarian supplies delivery to the Afghan population, to the conduct of combat operations.
On 1 October 2002 a tri-national detachment of 18 Danish, Netherlands and Norwegian F-16AM fighters and 1 Netherlands KDC-10 tanker, took the place of the Mirages. The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) led the 440-strong unit known as the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) detachment. It was tasked to provide day and night air support to US and coalition forces inside Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Furthermore, it could be called on to provide air support to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in and around Kabul. The unit was integrated within the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing of the US Air Force.
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