50 graduate Fatima Girls High School

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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

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10th CAB Soldiers bring communications to Bagram’s east side

U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls search Parwai during Operation Brass Monkey

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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

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Ky. ADT II begins Panjshir sheep parasite project

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Engineer Soldiers deliver aid to Afghans

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KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – 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 of Afghan villagers from Sabori, Saberi District Feb. 21. The Soldiers had been on a patrol in the area with elements of the Afghan National Army and were able to take a few minutes to get in some friendly volleyball action. The team of villagers, assisted by a few ANA members, emerged with the victory. (Photo by U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Noel Jordan, Task Force Duke) KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Wars throughout history have often been settled by using bullets and artillery shells, with sheer firepower usually making the difference between battlefield victory and defeat.

But today’s counterinsurgency fight is different, and mandates a creative balance of both firepower and nonlethal methods to accomplish mission objectives.  

U.S. Army Soldiers of the Fort Knox, Ky.,-based 3rd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, are hoping that a Feb. 21 volleyball game in Sarobi might go a long way in bringing peace to a country that’s known mostly violence and lawlessness over the last 30 years.

The Soldiers had been on a joint patrol with members of the Afghan National Army near the town of Sarobi, Saberi District, with the intent of meeting with local leaders and also distributing several crank-powered radios to the residents that would allow them to tune into Afghan radio programs.

Their plan was abruptly changed about an hour into the patrol when a grenade exploded near them as they were passing through the Kholbesat Bazaar. To their amazement, no one was hurt in the blast.  

“I can’t believe no one was seriously hurt,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Noel Jordan, 1st Bn., 26th Inf., assistant information operations officer who was also patrolling along with the platoon. “Pfc. Manley, who was at the rear of the patrol and who we believe was the target, received some minor scratches on his thighs from the blast material,” said Jordan.  

The locals reported seeing a child jump off the roof after the blast, Jordan said.  The patrol immediately cordoned off the market in an attempt to find the child, who they believed threw the grenade, to no avail.   
“We could have easily turned back after that attack,” said Jordan, “but the platoon leader drove on and continued the mission of passing out radios and meeting with key area leaders.”

After resuming the mission and entering Sarobi, the troops spotted a group of young village men playing volleyball, who challenged the Soldiers of Co. B, 1st Bn., 26th Inf., to a friendly contest.

Not wanting to let a good challenge slip by, not to mention a chance to build a rapport with the villagers, U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Jordan Weiss, the platoon leader for 3rd Platoon and Parkston, S.D., native, agreed to the challenge.

“We’re going to play these guys in volleyball,” Weiss said enthusiastically, while directing that a security perimeter be set up around the area, with his remaining Soldiers dropping their gear to competitively engage their newfound friendly foes.

Even a few members of the ANA joined the game, siding with the villagers in order to fill out the roster.

The game lasted about 20 minutes and ended with the locals winning by a close margin. Still, the Soldiers were pleased with the game, even in defeat.

“We had a really good reception with the locals, and they were really excited we were playing volleyball,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Nicholas Lumenello, a medic from Ogunquit, Maine.

The Soldiers felt the volleyball game was a great way to dispel some of the preconceived notions Afghan citizens frequently have about coalition forces.

By relaxing a little and taking the time to engage in an athletic competition with the villagers, the platoon was better able to connect to them.

And connecting with the Afghan people is the paramount goal. U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, International Security Assistance Force commander, frequently says the battle here involves more factors than simply killing the enemy.

So while an impromptu little volleyball game in wartime Sarobi may not seem like much, to the TF Duke Soldiers used to marching mile after mile over unforgiving terrain, it proved a welcomed change of pace.

“It was great we could switch gears like that,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Manley Calder, an infantryman from Gunnersville, Ala., and the Soldier nearest to the grenade blast.   
 
The 1st Bn., 26th Inf., Soldiers and the rest of the Soldiers of TF Duke will continue to take every opportunity to show the Afghan people that coalition forces are here to help them build a safer, more prosperous country capable of delivering effective and timely services.

And if volleyball can be part of that equation, so much the better.

“It was an excellent chance for us to build rapport with the Afghans,” Weiss said.

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – 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 volleyball game against a team of Afghan villagers from Sabori, Saberi District Feb. 21. The Soldiers had been on a patrol in the area with elements of the Afghan National Army and were able to take a few minutes to get in some friendly volleyball action. The team of villagers, assisted by a few ANA members, emerged with the victory. (Photo by U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Noel Jordan, Task Force Duke)

 

    

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ADT launches several Ghazni projects

 

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Task Force White Eagle Texas Agribusiness Development Team IV attended a ground breaking ceremony hosted by Ghazni Deputy sub-Gov. Mohammad Ali Ahmadi at the Ghazni Governor’s compound April 27.

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TF Dolch launches UAV in Logar Province

 

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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.

Coalition forces and aircraft responded to an insurgent attack. Four insurgents were killed by air strike and three were killed by direct fire from coalition forces.

All rounds were reported safe and on target. There were no reports of injuries or damages to civilians in the area.

 
ANSF, ISAF begin major operation in Laghman valley

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Security Forces, partnered with U.S. Task Forces Red Bulls and Phoenix and French Task Force La Fayette, began operations in Galuch Valley, Laghman Province, March 25.

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.

While conducting operations, the forces found multiple weapons caches including assorted rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, Russian rockets, materials to make homemade explosives, various other ordnances and communication equipment.  

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.