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)
While stress in a combat zone is abundant, these Rakkasan Soldiers chose to add to their time with the Army, with many stabilizing to remain with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
“Doing this in a combat zone means that I get to stay out here with all of my brothers and continue to serve,” said U.S. Army Spc. Alex Masteller, Troop A., 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, from Marion, Ohio. “Being a Rakkasan out here means being as hard as a Soldier can be.”
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Campbell, the 101st Airborne Division commander, officiated the ceremony from FOB Salerno, where 77 Soldiers who were re-enlisting were joined by 169 more via video teleconferences.
“Whenever you have an opportunity to re-enlist any Soldier, it is pretty awesome, but whenever you have an opportunity to re-enlist 236, that’s unique. That’s special,” Campbell said.
The process leading to the ceremony was a journey that started in June. Originally, the intention was to have 101 Soldiers re-enlist, but when the number of Soldiers re-enlisting grew, so did the goal. After passing 101 re-enlistees, brigade officials set the next goal at 187 - as in the 187th Infantry Regiment.
“This is a huge deal. One half of one percent of our nation is serving right now,” Campbell said. “You guys are a minority, but you’re doing it because it’s noble work, and I am proud to serve.”
By the time the date of the ceremony had arrived, 236 Rakkasans had re-enlisted in theater - matching the exact number of years the U.S. Army has been in existence.
“We just got the idea for 10-10-10 on Oct. 1, because it only happens every thousand years,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Ron Yancey, 3rd Brigade Combat Team senior career counselor from Batesville, Miss. “When we decided what we wanted to do, our battalion career counselors took the ball and rolled with it, coming up with what we had today.”
Oct. 1 marked the beginning of a new fiscal year. And while the old year may be over, the deployment continues and Soldiers are still re-enlisting, Yancey said.
While it may make economic sense, adding time onto an Army career during a deployment is never an easy decision.
“I’ve been with the Rakkasans for two years now and it's like a family. I love it here,” said U.S. Army Spc. Robert Barth, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 626th Brigade Support Battalion mechanic, from Moreno Valley, Calif.
Barth was the first member of his family to enlist in the military and takes great pride in knowing he is serving his country.
“It means a lot to me,” Barth said. “I’m out here with my other family on this deployment and don’t see the need to go anywhere else. I’ve been in this long and haven’t had any problems so I figured I might as well stay in for some more time.”
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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.