LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The back of the Chinook opened and the small team of scouts, mortarmen and infantrymen exited over knee-high piles of Meals Ready to Eat and bottled water into the darkness of Helicopter Landing Zone Hawk July 7.
Days earlier, some of these same Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, helped expel insurgents from the valley below during Operation Strong Eagle. Now they were back to ensure insurgents did not return by helping the Afghan National Army build a permanent outpost high above the Marawarah District.
“This particular ground is important because it allows us to provide over-watch and security,” said Maj. Eric D. Anderson, the executive officer of 2nd Bn., 327th Inf. Reg., stationed out of Fort Campbell, Ky. “We are also denying the enemy the ability to use that terrain. Time and time again throughout history, the enemy has rushed to the high ground [during military operations].”
There are no hardened buildings; no dining facilities; no morale, welfare and recreation centers; and no bathrooms on this new OP. Despite the lack of amenities, the Soldiers enthusiastically make do and carry on with their mission.
ANA and U.S. Soldiers begin working early before the temperature surpasses the 100-degree mark. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Oretheous O. Reed, of Blakely, Calif., a squad leader with 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Bn., 327th Inf. Reg., Task Force No Slack, fills sandbags alongside his squad and ANA soldiers.
“We are helping the ANA secure their area,” said Reed. “Helping them to build better fighting positions. They get excited when we work with them.”
The Soldiers build their fighting positions with sandbags, large rocks and indigenous vegetation. They maintain situational awareness of both the elements and possible enemy movement in the area.
“Safety is number one,” Reed said. “We pick safe times to work, like when it’s overcast. When the sun comes back out, we are back down again. We never stop drinking water.”
He also takes time to mentor the ANA soldiers when needed.
The ANA, in turn, show their appreciation by sharing a traditional Afghan lunch of cooked rice, potatoes and beans with the American Soldiers.
During the long hot days, the Soldiers do their best to keep morale up with occasional debates about the best actors, movies and singers.
Evenings present new challenges. Soldiers create guard duty rotations and double-check their night time optical devices before being completely enveloped in darkness. The winds pick up considerably and temperatures drop substantially.
There are no mattresses. Soldiers do their best to find a comfortable spot in the dirt, ignoring the tiny rocks that poke at them through the night.
One Soldier showed ingenuity by constructing a small blanket from material found during the day and 550-cord. Some use empty MRE boxes, uniform tops and poncho liners to provide additional protection from the wind.
Although, the valley below is almost completely desolate, the Soldiers understand the importance of being alert during their shifts.
“You do not want to let your buddy down,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Frank K. Copass, of Thomkinsville, Ky., a radio telephone operator with the scout platoon.
“You don’t want someone to sneak up on you because you weren’t scanning your sector,” said Copass.
When daylight breaks, the Soldiers start the process all over. For four days they continue improving fighting positions, pulling guard duty, keeping cool during the scorching day and keeping warm at night.
“Local nationals have ownership of security, static posts, patrolling and the town itself,” said Anderson. Eventually this OP will be turned over completely to Afghan National Security Forces.
Until then, the Soldiers continue their rotations high above the District of Marawarah.
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|Afghan forces, TF Bastogne continue operations in Sherzad District|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
|TF Iron eliminates insurgent IED team|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers form Task Force Iron Rakkasan and members of the Afghan Uniformed police, using the Precision Threat Detection System blimp at Forward Operating Base Andar, identified a group of insurgents with weapons and explosives Jan. 3.
|TF Iron Rakkasan uses PTDS to prevent highway robbery|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Recently, Soldiers from Task Force Iron Rakkasan watched a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police conduct an illegal checkpoint on the route between Ghazni and Sharana. Using the camera system on the Persistent Threat Detection System, Soldiers observed a man standing in the road collecting money from vehicles. The practice is common by insurgents who fund their attacks by taking money from locals.
|Joint operation helps clear Sherzad of insurgent activity|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from Task Force Bastogne began operations in the Sherzad District Dec. 23.