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 Soldiers of the 64th Military Police Company assigned to Combat Outpost Fortress in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province have seen plenty of action since they arrived at the outpost nearly nine months ago.
Since then, the MPs have been in contact with the enemy roughly 100 times while conducting route clearance patrols and during dismounted operations with infantry elements.
Fortunately, the MPs at COP Fortress have a couple of “combat multipliers” in U.S. Army Spc. Cristine Gallagher and U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman.
Gallagher, of Victorville, Calif., is a machine-launched grenade gunner. Hyman, of Texarkana, Texas, is an armored vehicle driver. They are the only female Soldiers assigned to COP Fortress.
Teammates and superiors alike praise Gallagher and Hyman’s professionalism and competence.
“Spc. Hyman and Spc. Gallagher have been complete combat multipliers. We’ve been able to do a lot of things you wouldn’t normally be able to do,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Hagerman of Lewisville, Texas, Hyman’s and Gallagher’s squad leader. “For example, during Operation Enterprise, when searching for a female, it was a lot easier for us to get through villages having (them) with us, because we were able to go into female rooms and search...”
Another squad leader, U.S. Army Sgt. Logan Curry of Harrisburg, Ill., echoed Hagerman’s assessment of Hyman and Gallagher, though Curry did have one caveat.
“They just flat, outperform everybody sometimes; except me, of course,” Curry said with a grin.
“They’re squared away,” said Pfc. Mark Diaz of Sacramento, Calif. “They know exactly what they’re doing, and they do 110 percent all the time.”
When told about how superiors and peers lauded her and Gallagher, Hyman reacted modestly.
“You know, I feel like we’re just like anybody else,” Hyman said. “We’re just Soldiers. We do what they ask us to do and we try to get the job done. I don’t think we’re anything special from any of the guys.”
Gallagher, who has 28 confirmed enemy kills, described her combat experience in similar terms.
“I think of it as a learning experience,” Gallagher said. You’re put in a situation where you have seconds to think on something and you just have to react. I enjoy it, but it’s also something I won’t forget.”
Gallagher and Hyman both spoke of their fellow Soldiers with a respect forged under fire.
“They’re like my brothers,” Gallagher said. “I protect them and they protect me.”
“These are all my brothers,” said Hyman. “They take care of us. They treat us just like they would them.”
Diaz responded with the same sentiment.
“I consider them to be sisters because we’ve been with each other so long that you just can’t react anyway else,” he said.
Gallagher and Hyman both have dangerous jobs. A fellow Soldier with the 64th MPs, Pfc. Barbara Vieyra of Mesa, Ariz., died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked her convoy with an improvised explosive device and rocket propelled grenades Sep. 18. Hyman could not talk about her friend’s death while Gallagher shared her feelings about their fallen comrade.
“As much as you don’t want things like this to happen, it does, and you have to keep going,” Gallagher said. “I mourn her when we can, and she’s always in my thoughts, but I also go out each and every day knowing, that one day, the people who did it will get their due.”
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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.