FOB Kajaki (U.K.)
FOB Kajaki is a British remote base near the key Kajaki Dam in Kandahar province. Elements of the ADF artillery contingent have been deployed there. A very large project to install electricity turbines at the dam was indefinitely postponed in late 2009 due to lack of security.
, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Media Roundtable, MSPA 90721/09, 21 July 20
But we had our Special Forces – I mentioned the incident up by the Kajaki Dam. The Kajaki Dam is one of the hottest spots in Helmand. We had people up there for 28 days. I mean, we have the largest element of Special Forces in Afghanistan other than the Americans. In fact, in ISAF, we have the biggest element of Special Forces. They’ve operated in Helmand, they’ve operated in Kandahar, and our Reconstruction Task Force has gone down into Sarbul and also into Gasnier.
, Operation Slipper Image Gallery, 18 September 2008.
Gunner Adrian Broadhead (21) of Campbelltown, Sydney New South Wales cleans his weapon in the basic tent accommodation that houses 13 of the 18 Australian and British Gunners operating the gun line at Forward Operating Base Kajaki, Afghanistan. (Date taken: 01 September 2008)
Marines destroy Taliban base, Royal Navy History
The death of a Taliban commander has been reported after a raid by Royal Marines saw the successful destruction of his command and communications base north of the Kajaki Dam. 45 Commando Royal Marines’ Victor Company conducted the operation in the early hours of the morning, creeping out of their remote Forward Operating Base, Zeebruge, in the mountainous region of Kajaki, under the cover of darkness. Victor Company’s job is to defend the Kajaki Dam from attacks by the Taliban. The dam is critical to southern Afghanistan as its turbines provide electrical power and water to a huge proportion of the Afghan population in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
Kajaki Dam brings power to Southern Afghanistan, Afghanistan Report 2009, NATO
The delivery of a third turbine to the Kajaki Dam in Kandahar Province was completed in September 2008. The new turbine, plus the refurbishment of an existing one, will triple the dam’s electric power output from 16.5 MW to 51 MW to Kajaki, Lashkar Gah, and Kandahar. Other work on the dam will provide water for homes, agriculture, and industry for the 1.5 million people who live in the Helmand River Valley. The result will be a significant improvement in the quality of life for the people living in the valley, as well as increased economic growth and development. Increased electrical and water supplies will enable farmers to produce higher crop yields, health clinics to improve their services, and children to have reliable light to study. The Kajaki Dam is one element of the effort to achieve development in the Helmand Valley
and a crucial part of the Government’s overall economic and social development plan. Although the project itself is funded by the US Government, the Ministry of Energy is instrumental in developing the project plans and assuring coordination with the Government’s overall energy development. The implementation of the project would not have been possible without the security provided by the ANSF and ISAF troops, and the logistical coordination supplied by the PRT. (Source USAID)
Afghanistan: propaganda of the deed, Paul Rogers, openDemocracy.net, 2010-02-11
This operation received huge publicity in the British media, most of which hailed it as one of the great successes of the war. The plan was to supplement the dam’s already working turbine with another that would be divided into seven large sections (of over twenty tonnes each), then carried by road from Kandahar airbase to Kajaki through 280 kilometres of largely hostile territory. No less than 5,000 troops were involved to ensure the safe transfer of the turbine: from Britain (3,000), the United States, Australia, Denmark and Canada (a total of 1,000), and Afghanistan (1,000).
The logistics were enormous: a 4-kilometre convoy of 100 vehicles – supported by fifty Viking armoured vehicles and constant air-cover from British, American, French and Dutch planes and American drones – took six days to travel the route, deliver the turbine, and (again over six days) return to secure bases. Along the way, one Canadian soldier and a reported 200 Taliban were killed. The way was now ready to import Chinese technicians to instal the turbine (which was a Chinese design), and for Nato/Isaf to bask in the secure knowledge that this part of Helmand province had been made safe and was on the development path. The entire operation was portrayed both as a success in itself and as the start of a process that would have a ripple-effect across much of southern Afghanistan. It could, it was claimed, be a turning-point in the war.
What happened next? By March 2009, six months on, there were reports that the turbine was still waiting to be unpacked (yet alone installed); and that security concerns were delaying progress in the work. Now the whole project has been abandoned (see “US postpones Afghan dam project”, BBC News, 14 December 2009). The immediate trigger of the decision was that the Chinese contractor charged with installing the turbines withdrew overnight because of poor security. The job was always going to be huge; it would have involved the deployment of several hundred tonnes of cement and other supplies, and the mobilisation of a large team of engineers, technicians and labourers. At last, USAID has accepted that a further operation on this scale across land still controlled by the Taliban is unfeasible. It has reluctantly arranged for the turbine sections to be put into storage, and is now seeking energy projects elsewhere in Afghanistan in which it can invest.
Afghan Kajaki dam project delayed by security concerns, BBC News, 2009-12-09
Updated: 15 February 2010