PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A shopkeeper stands by his store in the Bagram Airfield bazaar Dec. 11. The bazaar brings in more than $30,000 into the local economy on a (click for more)
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A member of the AUP performs a search during an AUP-led operation with Company A, 1st Battalion, 168 Infantry Regiment in Jaji District Dec. 16. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Local children watch members of Kapisa PRT pass as they leave the Abdul Salam High School in Ghayn Valley Dec. 15. (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Maj. Ted A. Broome (right), and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eleazar Vizcaino, both assigned to 358th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, evaluate a donkey at (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Haji Sher Badir, Manogai District subgovernor, speaks during the election ceremony for the Manogai District Community Council Dec. 9. (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Key elders listen intently while the U.S. and Polish ambassadors, Musa Khan, Ghazni provincial governor, and Amina Safi Afzaly, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, speak (click for more)
U.S. Army Maj. Loren Adams, veternarian from New Liberty, Iowa, supervises as an Afghan veterinarian puts final sutures into a neutered dog at a continuing education conference organized by the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Actor and comedian Robin Williams talks with U.S. Army Maj. Gen John F. Campbell, Combined Joint Task Force 101 and Regional Command East commander, before the (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, shakes a little girl's hand during the playground dedication at Ghazni City Orphanage in Ghazni Dec. 15. (click for more)
U.S. Army Spcs. Bryan Couillard and Joel Howard, both from Lowell, Mass., met in history class during their sophomore year at Dracut High School. They learned, played sports and got in trouble together.
But not too much trouble.
When their high school years came to an end, it was time to transition to the adult world. Howard decided to join the Army first as a way to pay for college and “get a good head” on his shoulders, as he puts it.
Couillard soon followed his friend, wanting to change the direction his life was heading.
“It just (kind of) clicked. Join the Army and then maybe you can straighten out your life; be a little more self-confident doing something good,” said Couillard.
They showed up together for basic combat training at Fort Benning, Ga., March 5, 2008, and went though the course side by side as “battle buddies,” an Army term for your partner in both garrison and combat.
Both Soldiers agreed their friendship helped them through the rigorous training.
“It was definitely easier going through basic training with one of your best friends by your side,” Howard said.
They graduated boot camp from the same platoon then joined the same squad of Company C, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, a Massachusetts National Guard unit based out of Cambridge, Mass.
Both Howard and Coulliard agree joining the Army gave them benefits they probably wouldn’t have gotten if they stayed civilians.
“I'm definitely a lot stronger mentally and physically,” Howard said.
“You put on this uniform and it makes you feel like a completely different person. It gives you some pride,” said Couillard.
Now their unit is serving in Afghanistan as the security force for Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team helping the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan provide public services and development projects.
Together, they escort subject-matter experts to schools, clinics and meetings with village elders throughout the province. These missions provide meaningful experiences they couldn’t have imagined while they were still in high school.
“It’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Howard said.
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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.