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)
Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Sounds of CH-47 Chinook helicopter blades chopping the air filled the passengers’ ears as they jumped out the back onto a soft dirt field. In the dark, dismounted Soldiers switched-on their night vision devices after the helicopters lifted and flew away, leaving the skies empty except for the bright moon. In the early morning hours Feb. 21, Operation First Snow was finally underway.
As a second round of Chinooks landed, the first group of Soldiers were already moving towards Qual-e Jala to search the compounds for the targeted individual. Soldiers and attachments of Troop B, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Redhorse, a part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, took the first steps to clear, hold, and build Koh-e Safi, ridding the area of insurgency one target at a time.
“We went to Qual-e Jala within Koh-e Safi to search for known weapons cache sites, and we wanted to detain a known insurgent we believed was in the area,” said U.S. Army Capt. Randall Stanford, a Clive, Iowa, resident and the Troop B commander. “The sources we used didn’t work to get our primary objective, so we just continued with our clearing and searching operations.”
The company spilt the village and cleared the compounds one by one. Throughout the day, they killed one insurgent, detained four others and found grenades, rockets, landmines and improved explosive device making materials. The Afghan National Army, with minimal guidance, took the lead on the majority of the searches.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Andrew Smith, 3rd Platoon leader for Troop B from Iowa City, Iowa, said the ANA soldiers did a great job while they cleared 3rd Platoon’s sector of the village.
“We had 10 ANA soldiers with us, and one spoke pretty good English,” he said, “which worked out very well because without him we would have had to do a lot of hand signalling. He really helped out.”
Stanford said Troop B had trained previously with the ANA and Afghan National Police unit that ran the operation with them. He was happy with how much the ANA took the lead in clearing the village.
“They really got in on the questioning of detained individuals,” he said. “Without having to go through an interpreter, the ANA had a lot of questions they would fire at them. My interpreter would just have to say ‘He’s asking this,’ and they were asking the right questions. It’s good when they can ask the questions and do the searching; we are getting where we need to be which is us backing up and them going forward, and that’s happening already.”
“We were very satisfied with the cooperation we had with the Bravo Troop,” said ANA Lt. Aimal, the executive officer for 3rd Company, 3rd Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment. “We did what we came to do and it was very successful. We hope that in the future we have many successful missions like this with other Coalition Forces.”
Troop B plans on conducting future operations with the ANA and ANP, Smith said.
“I’m looking forward to future partnership with the ANA and ANP because without them our element is so small that it’s really difficult to make an impact,” said Smith. “When we have (the Afghan forces) with us, the local Afghans seem to be a little more understanding and accepting of us being there than if it’s just us alone.”
The mission went off flawlessly, said Stanford. Troop B had planned and briefed the mission for weeks prior to execution, each Soldier knew exactly what his or her task and purpose was. Not only did Troop B have ANA and ANP along on the mission, but they also had a French Operational Mentoring Liaison Team, a law enforcement professional, a female engagement team, military working dogs, and air assets to name a few.
“We had so many assets rolled up into this one mission,” Stanford said. “For it to go off as well as it did, and (for us to) find as much stuff as we did, and detain the individuals we did, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Clearing, holding and improving Koh-e Safi, Qual-e Jala was the first step. Troop B plans to continue throughout the rest of the district to make it a safe place for Afghans to live peacefully.
“We are here to help them,” said Smith, “to secure them and to get the guys that are doing harmful things out.”
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