How one man makes a difference in Afghanistan

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Ghouse Loynab, human terrain analyst with Human Terrain Team, TF Red Bulls, takes notes as he talks to a villager about governance and development issues Feb. (click for more)

Guardians of Peace produces results in Paktya

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clint Koerperich of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, squad leader for 2nd Platoon, Company C., 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, patrols with ANA soldiers (click for more)

Working together to put Afghan heroes back together again

PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Gheiratullah, an Afghan medical soldier, practices self aid and buddy care at the Paktya Regional Medical Center Feb. 13. (click for more)

Bidder’s conference places Afghans in control

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Crystal Sims (right), from Duncan, Okla., a project manager for the 2-45th Agribusiness Development Team, assists an Afghan with registering at the bidder’s (click for more)

Panjshir women strengthen communication skills

PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ashlee Lolkus, TF Red Bulls, shows Rohubza Dousti, a trainer and supervisor at the United Nations Habitat and a Panjshir youth group (click for more)

Ghazni PRT assesses village, builds relationships

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Ghazni PRT members walk among the locals engaging in conversation during a village assessment in Touheed Abad in Ghazni Province Feb. 6. (click for more)

Iowa ADT inks deal for orchard training farm

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Haji Hazrat Ali Gull, a fruit producer, explains improvements he already made to a proposed orchard training farm site he owns to U.S. Army Master Sgt. (click for more)

Co. A makes successful return to Shebatkyl

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A team of Kiowa helicopters provide overhead security for U.S. Army Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, and Afghan National Army Soldiers from (click for more)

Delegation conducts market outreach mission in Zormat

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Mohammad Masood, Paktya Agricultural Department advisor, and U.S. Army Col. Robert Roshell, 2-45 Agribusiness Development Team commander from Lawton, Okla., examine spices during a mission to (click for more)

Kunar PRT medics help healing at Asadabad Hospital

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Lynn Redman of San Antonio, Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team nurse practitioner, examines a female Afghan patient with Afghan Dr. Ismat Shinwary, Asadabad (click for more)


LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Chaplain (Capt.) Jerry Johnson, a native of Lowville, N.Y., Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon chaplain, teaches a World Religions class at Forward Operating Base Shank Jan. 12. The chaplain’s class was the first University of Maryland University College class conducted at FOB Shank. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Janell Emerson, Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- When U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Jerry Johnson received orders to leave the basic trainees after two years at Fort Jackson, S.C., for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade in the spring of 2010, he began to prepare a World Religions class for a new kind of audience; deployed Soldiers in Afghanistan.

Ricardo Turpin, the University of Maryland Europe field representative at Forward Operating Base Shank, responded enthusiastically to Johnson’s early e-mail proposals. After learning of Johnson’s previous success with the class he taught at FOB Salerno with 3rd Brigade Combat Team in 2006, Turpin began the process that led to the course being offered for the third time at FOB Shank. 

“Chaplain Johnson's class was the very first University of Maryland University College class to run on FOB Shank; outstanding,” Turpin said.
Johnson, a native of Lowville, N.Y., wasted no time instructing World Religions. Class began the day after his arrival at FOB Shank. 
Johnson’s motivation for the educational push is simple.

“It’s an extension of the chaplain ministry to educate Soldiers on religions and the impact religion has within the operational environment; and it helps Soldiers with their college credits,” said Johnson.

The first iteration included 12 students from the Navy, Army and Air Force.  Only one Soldier represented 10th Mountain Division due to their limited time on FOB Shank. The second iteration held 24 students, most from the 10th CAB.

Turpin, realizing the potential of the class, organized plans for a special winter intersession iteration. 

“I sat in many of his sessions; his instruction style is more lecture with a twist of the Socratic method of teaching,” said Turpin. “I would highly recommend Chaplain Johnson's class to everyone. He is flexible, and his classes are a great way to wind down from the high tempo of the day's work. UMUC Europe is proud to have the chaplain as a faculty member and will continue to work with him as long as possible.” 

World Religions is a basic introduction to the concept of studying faith with a specific focus on seven designated religions. Part one of Johnson’s class covers the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism; along with a short summary of indigenous religions found in Australia, Africa and the Americas. Part two emphasizes the concepts found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Students take a 50-question multiple choice mid-term exam to evaluate their ability to understand the terminology involving these faiths. They also get involved in a class project on a historical religious figure not covered in the class and ethical issues pertaining to religion.
In keeping with Johnson’s style of instruction, the students’ final exams are a little more unique than your typical university essay. Students are required to write a comparison paper on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The papers are then compiled to a compact disc and handed out to each student. 

“They all receive a CD with the papers from the other participants, in a sense giving the whole class an archive of material to use in their own careers, said Johnson. “My main goal is to offer them an appreciation of all of the contributions across the religious spectrum regardless of preconceived ideas.” 
In catering to the venue, Johnson closes out his class with discussion on extremism and terrorism as they relate to the Afghanistan operational environment.

Johnson’s students express different reasons for taking World Religions. 

“I wanted to understand the world around me and what the foundations of other nationalities are,” said U.S. Army Spc. Courtney Pool, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment chaplain’s assistant from Springfield, Mo. “I wanted to study a subject that would help me relate to and compare with people of different backgrounds and belief systems than mine.”
Some students were taking the class in order to fulfill requirements for their degree.

U.S. Army Pfc. Osie Rolle-Cook of Co. D, TF Knighthawk, 10th CAB from Lake City, Fla., said she was especially impressed by Buddhism.

The senior ranking participant, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Leroy Madison from Odenton, Md., also of TF Knighthawk, felt the class was surprisingly courteous in tone though many students voiced strong convictions in faith within the various discussions. He added that debate was civil, something he did not expect. LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Pfc. Osie Rolle-Cook, a native of Lake City, Fla., Company D, Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon, is engaged in a lecture on Buddhism during a class Jan. 22 taught by Chaplain (Capt.) Jerry Johnson, a native of Lowville, N.Y., the TF Knighthawk chaplain. This is the third World Religions class taught by Johnson at FOB Shank. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Janell Emerson, Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)


Last Updated on Saturday, 19 February 2011 22:45


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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan –Afghanistan National Security Forces and U.S. Army soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, alongside other members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, began a series of joint operations in the Ghazibad District of the Kunar Province Feb. 16.

Drug lab discovered in Nangarhar, material destroyed

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Soldiers assigned to Troop C, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, attached to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, conducted a search with Afghan National Security Forces in Loya Torma Village in Sherzad District Feb. 5.

ANSF, TF Bastogne begin operations in Shawan Ghar Valley

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces partnered with the Soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Bastogne, 101st Airborne Division, to begin operations in the Shawan Ghar Valley of the Lal Por District Feb. 3.


Weapons cache found, destroyed in Laghman

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A weapons cache consisting of more than 100 anti-personnel mines was found by coalition forces on patrol near the village of Jugi, Mehtar Lam District, Laghman Province Jan. 27. An explosive ordnance disposal team was deployed to the scene and destroyed the cache in place.

The security and safety of Afghan civilians is an important part of every coalition operation. All weapons caches found during these operations are destroyed to ensure they do not harm civilians or military personnel.

“Mines are indiscriminate killers. They don’t distinguish between Soldiers or civilians, between men, women or children. We must all work together to eliminate the threat posed by these deadly weapons,” said U.S. Army Col. Ben Corell, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls.

If you see any suspicious activity or know of a weapons cache in your area, please report it. Call the Operations Coordination Center Provincial Tip Line at 079-662-0193 or at 079-397-0975.