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

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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

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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)

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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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LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Spc. Rene Girasek (left), a chemical equipment repair specialist with Company E, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Battalion, Task Force Ironman, from Postville, Iowa, teaches Afghan National Army soldiers from 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Corps, to check the oil level on a humvee Feb. 1 at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Red Bull Soldiers conduct weekly training with the ANA soldiers including instruction on preventive maintenance checks and services on humvees and disassemble and reassembly procedures for a .50 caliber machine gun. TF Ironman is a part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, and the Iowa National Guard. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs Office)LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- The Afghan National Army soldier grabbed the handles on the .50 caliber machine gun, unlocked them and slid them up and off the heavy frame of the weapon Feb. 1 at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. His friends from the unit looked over his shoulder, watching him intently from behind.


 
Removing the handles was the first of many steps in disassembling the weapon. Also watching were U.S. Army Sgt. Leo Pins, a cavalry scout, team leader with the scout/sniper platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, and U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Burke, a field artillery gunner attached to the scout/sniper platoon.

The two U.S. Army Soldiers from the Iowa National Guard’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, taught the ANA soldiers how to disassemble, clean and reassemble the weapon in a two-hour training session the week before.

After training was complete, instructors had the students disassemble and reassemble a weapon.   The test was the moment of truth for Afghan soldier Abdul Ahmad, a rifleman with 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Corps, to see what he had retained from the training.

“The ANA soldiers didn’t originally know anything about the .50 cal,” Pins said. “So we taught them the basics: how to take the weapon apart and what to look for to make sure it will function correctly. It’s been about a week, so all I wanted to see was how much they retained from my first class.”

He appreciated the results.

“When I came over here this time, they actually had the bolt completely taken apart, which is something I didn’t teach them in the first class. They already figured out how to take it apart and put it back together, so that shows me that in their off time, they’ve been working with each other to learn more about the weapon, and that they had retained a lot from what we taught them the first week,” Pins said.

Piece by piece, for about 10 minutes or so, Ahmad stripped the weapon down, and then carefully put it all back together. Pins and Burke mostly observed the young soldier, but occasionally stepped in to show him a trick for getting a part he was having difficulty with to lock in to place.

“It’s pretty impressive, because it takes some of our own Soldiers more than once to even remember half the stuff involved with disassembling and reassembling this weapon,” Pins said.

Pins, a native of Dyersville, Iowa, is on his third deployment and has worked with .50 caliber Machine guns the last six years.

“I know a lot of the little quirks to make it easier to take this weapon apart,” he said. “I’ve been slowly teaching them what I’ve learned and a lot of them have picked it up, as well as learned their own ways, which is amazing to see in their second class.”

Pins said the ANA soldiers’ senior leadership learned the weapon and taught it to their younger soldiers, which Pins said he was happy to see. Ahmad was one of the Soldiers who excelled.

“I watched the Americans take apart the .50 caliber machine gun,” Ahmad said. “I watched it very carefully, because I had never touched one before. Now I know how to take it apart and put it back together again, and shoot and clean the weapon. I am happy that I learned that.”

After Ahmad had taken the weapon completely apart then reassembled it, he was not done. Burke and Pins watched as the Soldier then checked the headspace and timing to ensure the weapon would fire correctly and was ready for combat.

“They know how to do everything now, and if something happens with that .50 cal, they should know how to fix it,” said Burke, a native of Sioux City, Iowa.

Meanwhile, about 30 yards away, the soldiers from the other half of the ANA platoon were gathered around three of their humvees. The up-armored vehicles were inherited from the coalition, but now the ANA soldiers are responsible for maintaining and operating the vehicles. That’s where U.S. Army Spcs. Rene Girasek, a chemical equipment repair specialist with Co. E, 1st Bn., 133rd Inf. Regt., and Richard Rawson, a field artillery gunner attached to the scout/sniper platoon of HHC, came into the picture.

Girasek, who hails from Postville, Iowa, and Rawson, from Sioux City, Iowa, taught the ANA soldiers the step-by-step process of preventive maintenance checks and services on the humvees.

“We taught them the three classes of leaks, how to check the fluids and the steps of (doing preventive maintenance on) the vehicle,” Rawson said. “Afterward, we split them into three groups on the vehicles and supervised them while they went over it themselves.”

Girasek, who works every day with the mechanics in Co. E, has an in-depth knowledge of the vehicles and stressed to the ANA soldiers why proper PMCS are important.

“I tried to explain why it’s important to conduct a proper PMCS,” Girasek said. “If you go on a mission and your truck dies because it’s been leaking and there’s no oil in it, it gets overheated or your tires didn’t have enough air in them and they go flat, you will not be in a good situation. So we showed them how to conduct PMCS to ensure their truck will work properly.”

Rawson said they also showed the soldiers how to switch the vehicle to four-wheel-drive mode in the event they get stuck in the rough Afghan terrain during a mission.

The U.S. Soldiers said they conduct weekly training with their ANA counterparts on everything from vehicle and weapons maintenance to tactical maneuvers. Pins summed up the importance of the training sessions.

“We’ve been working with these guys for the last two months now, and we go out and do a lot of scout missions,” Pins said. “About a month ago we had contact in a village with them and we got to see exactly how they react to that. If we didn’t have any type of working relationship with these guys, we probably would have incurred injuries, but by working with these guys and making them our straight-up counterparts, they did an amazing job in the village and we received no casualties.

“It makes us feel more confident to know that, because of our training, they will know what to do to keep this country safe. It’s teambuilding. We know if we get into something nasty, the ANA’s got our back because they know their job.”LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Spc. Richard Rawson (left), a field artillery Soldier attached to the scout/sniper platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Battalion, Task Force Ironman, from Sioux City, Iowa, shows Afghan National Army soldiers from 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Corps how to remove the cover on an air filter during training on the steps of humvee preventative maintenance checks and services Feb. 1 at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Red Bull Soldiers conduct weekly training with the ANA soldiers including instruction on preventive maintenance checks and services on humvees and disassemble and reassembly procedures for a .50 caliber machine gun. TF Ironman is a part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, and the Iowa National Guard. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs Office)LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Burke (left), a field artillery Soldier attached to the scout/sniper platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Battalion, from Sioux City, Iowa, watches as Afghan National Army soldiers from 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Corps, screw in the barrel of a .50 caliber machine gun after reassembling the weapon Feb. 1 at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Red Bull Soldiers conduct weekly training with the ANA soldiers including instruction on preventive maintenance checks and services on humvees and disassemble and reassembly procedures for a .50 caliber machine gun. TF Ironman is a part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, and the Iowa National Guard. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs Office)

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 February 2011 22:48
 

    

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Coalition forces engage insurgents in Kapisa

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

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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.

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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

 

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

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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