50 graduate Fatima Girls High School

Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)

Polish and US Forces bond through weapons

Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)

TF Duke Soldiers volley for peace

U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)

Nurgaram District leaders electrify Nangaresh schools

Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)

10th CAB Soldiers bring communications to Bagram’s east side

U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls search Parwai during Operation Brass Monkey

An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)

Female engagement teams trained to aid communication with Afghan women

U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)

ANA, TF Storm break trail, make difference in Kharwar

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)

Ky. ADT II begins Panjshir sheep parasite project

Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)

Engineer Soldiers deliver aid to Afghans

An Afghan carrying a child approaches U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Moeller of Atkins, Iowa, a medic with Task Force Red Bulls, for humanitarian aid at Qale-Mussa Pain Middle School (click for more)

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NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Capt. Adam W. Racusin, an orthopedic surgeon from Granada Hills, Calif., assigned to the 745th Forward Surgical Team, attached to Task Force Bastogne, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, cleans and bandages Nazawaly Uddin's hand a few weeks after performing surgery on it at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, April 18. Nazawaly's hand was badly burned by boiling water rendering her hand useless before the surgery. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Nazawaly wants to be a doctor. But with her right hand wrapped in gauze, it's hard for the 8-year-old Afghan girl to even write her homework. She winces when she tries to use it, so she writes her lessons with her left hand. Even though it's a weekday, she's not in school.

"She's super tough; a tough little girl," said U.S. Army Capt. Adam W. Racusin, an orthopedic surgeon. "It's all right, sweetie."

Nazawaly tried not to pull her hand away from the doctor as she whimpered in pain.

"Move your hand like this, sweetie. This side looks good," Racusin said as he inspected her hand with his blue gloves on. "One more time, like this."

She whimpered again.

"That skin was just so beat up and nasty; it's been like that for a couple years," said Racusin about her hand. "When you try to stretch it, because it's been under so much tension and pressure, it doesn't take a joke."

Nazawaly and her father have been coming to see Racusin and the 745th Forward Surgical Team at Forward Operating Base Fenty in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province for about five months.

About two years ago, Nazawaly spilled boiling water on her hand. Her father, Sharaf Uddin, took her to the Jalalabad Public Health Hospital close to where they live. She had an operation on her fingers, but it wasn't very successful said Uddin.

"When I took her to the local hospital, they didn't give us a good result," said Uddin. "So I thought her hand was going to stay like that for life."

The hospital doctors told her to come back when she was older and her hand was stronger. Over the next two years, her fingers grew together and her hand formed into a ball.

Her father, a laborer with seven other children, didn't have enough money to hire a specialist for his youngest daughter's hand.

Then one day, someone came to him.

"A U.S. convoy came through town and stopped. I talked to them to see if they could do anything to treat my daughter's hand," said Uddin.

The convoy's commander took his cell phone number and told Uddin they would call him in a few days to see if they could help him. Uddin didn't think they would call.

A few days later, he got a phone call asking him to bring his daughter to FOB Fenty to meet with a surgeon.

She's had two operations in the past three months.

"You have to stage the operations," said Racusin. "If you try to do all four fingers at one time, then you risk the loss of blood to the fingers."

Racusin completed the second operation on her hand to separate her fingers from each other about a month ago. Syndactyl, a medical term, means that her digits were connected and the hand basically had no function, he said.

"It's not an easy surgery on a normal, healthy child's hand," said Racusin, a native of Granada Hills, Calif. "The smaller the hand it is, it's obviously harder. You're worried about injuring the artery and nerve that runs on each side of the digit."

The primary function of an FST is to provide surgical care for troops coming from the battlefield, stabilize them and move them to a higher-level facility. Though in some special cases, they take locals like Nazawaly.

"We've taken care of a lot of wounded warriors transitioning back to the States,” said Racusin. “We've taken care of a lot of [Afghan National Security Forces]. Out of all the stuff we've done, most people that work here, and myself included, are most proud of doing this kind of stuff for these kids."

I think the main reason we do this is because we see a child and want to do the right thing to help somebody out," said Racusin. "I certainly hope it promotes a good image of the United States military and the U.S. in general, and shows that we're compassionate and we care."

Racusin also acknowledged that helping one little girl can have an impact on the volatile region surrounding Jalalabad.

"I hope it counteracts some of the negative images the Taliban use in their propaganda," said Racusin. "That would be a great secondary benefit, but the primary benefit would be to give Nazawaly the best chance at life."

"All right Nazawaly, everything's good," said Racusin. "Her fingers look less swollen today."

He leaned closer and finished bandaging her hand.

"It means you're doing a good job," he said.

The shy little girl looked up from behind her aqua-blue veil and gave a slight smile.

Racusin laughed.

"The first time she smiled at me was the last time she came here, and she got a teddy bear," Racusin explained. "She's had a rough last few months of her life."NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Capt. Adam W. Racusin, an orthopedic surgeon from Granada Hills, Calif., assigned to the 745th Forward Surgical Team, attached to Task Force Bastogne, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, washes a young Afghan girl’s hand a few weeks after performing surgery on it at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, April 18. The 745th FST Soldiers provide medical care for Afghans on a case-by-case basis, said Racusin. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – After a routine check-up with U.S. Army doctors assigned to the 745th Forward Surgical Team, attached to Task Force Bastogne, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, 8-year-old Nazawaly Uddin gives a shy smile before leaving Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, April 18. Nazawaly, whose hand was crippled for more than two years, should regain full use in a few months. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)

 

    

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Coalition forces engage insurgents in Kapisa
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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed seven insurgents in defensive operations in the Alah Say District, Kapisa Province, eastern Afghanistan, March 29.

Coalition forces and aircraft responded to an insurgent attack. Four insurgents were killed by air strike and three were killed by direct fire from coalition forces.

All rounds were reported safe and on target. There were no reports of injuries or damages to civilians in the area.

 
ANSF, ISAF begin major operation in Laghman valley
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LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Security Forces, partnered with U.S. Task Forces Red Bulls and Phoenix and French Task Force La Fayette, began operations in Galuch Valley, Laghman Province, March 25.

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps, Afghan National Police’s 202nd Shamshod and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, supported by the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Phoenix, conducted an air assault into the valley to remove enemy forces. Battle Group Richelieu, TF La Fayette, provided artillery support from Kapisa Province.

While conducting operations, the forces found multiple weapons caches including assorted rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, Russian rockets, materials to make homemade explosives, various other ordnances and communication equipment.  

While moving through the valley, unit leadership met with village elders to discuss the security situation and to allow them to give up insurgents still in the area.

The operation will assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in establishing the valley as a new district giving the Afghan people in the area freedom from the insurgency.   

President Hamid Karzai approved the creation of the additional district and hopes the new district will help improve the security of the area and support the reconstruction effort.

Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, Laghman Province governor, held a press conference March 7 announcing the establishment of a new district located in the valley.

 
ANSF, TF Bastogne continue operations in Kunar
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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troops from Task Force Bastogne continued operations in the Shigal District March 18 after clearing the village of Lawsin and the surrounding area.

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Afghan leaders, coalition forces look forward
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PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Leaders from across eastern Afghanistan attended a security conference March 9 at Forward Operating Base Thunder, the home of the Afghan Army’s 203rd Thunder Corps.

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