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

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)

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

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

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)

Ky. ADT II begins Panjshir sheep parasite project

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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NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Christian Kapler, an infantryman from Oelwein, Iowa, in Company B, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Battalion, shows a dry-erase board March 5 he uses to draw out projects for his crew of 44 Afghan workers at Forward Operating Base Torkham Gate. The Iowa National Guard Soldier and civilian carpenter has become the go-to guy for projects on the expanding base. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Sgt. Christian Kapler is a busy man. Anywhere people walk on Forward Operating Base Torkham Gate on the Afghanistan and Pakistan border, they will see something Kapler built, repaired or improved.

“My dad would say it’s genetics,” said Kapler, a burly, soft-spoken infantryman from Oelwein, Iowa, with Company B, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment serving as the FOB manager. “My grandfather had a little shop and built everything he had -- his house and all. I don’t know what he actually did for a job other than build things.”

Like his grandfather, Kapler said he enjoys working with his hands.

“I was always tinkering and building things when I was a kid, going to the lumber yard and getting scrap wood and building stuff. I did handyman stuff when I was older and started going to school at a community college for architecture and contracting, but I kept getting deployed, so I never finished college. I think the unit knows building stuff is the type of thing I excel at.”

Torkham Gate has been home to Co. B, part of the Iowa National Guard’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, since October, and the base is expanding. Kapler, who supervises 44 Afghanworkers of various trades and abilities, is tasked with improving the base.

Kapler said he appreciates the work his crew does, despite what at times is a challenging process of getting supplies and proper tools. He said when his team wants to get something done, they do it quickly.

His company commander, U.S. Army Capt. Kevin Hrodey, from Pleasant Hill, Iowa, said he is impressed with Kapler’s accomplishments.

“It is amazing to look at pictures of the FOB from when we first took over operations and then walk around now and see how much it has actually changed,” said Hrodey. “It is almost like we are not even in the same place anymore. At the rate Sgt. Kapler is improving this FOB, by the time we go to leave, we’ll be leaving a small city instead of a small, remote FOB.”

According to Hrodey, people can see the products of Kapler’s efforts everywhere they look.  His projects have improved all aspects of life on the FOB from base defense to quality of life to his worker’s maintenance facility.

One repair that took some innovation was Kapler’s upgrade to the FOB firing range. Before he and his crew got their hands on it, the range was a berm, surrounded by sand-basket barriers, with some old, neglected targets and a few stakes in the ground that marked the distance.

“We use the cardboard from water pallets as target backing,” Kapler said. 

The older targets were fixed and Kapler’s crew installed conduit so targets could be easily replaced once they start deteriorating. He used unserviceable dining facility tables as firing benches, weapons racks, new metal distance markers, a reinforced berm and a camouflage net awning to provide shade.

A 15-year-veteran of the Iowa National Guard, Kapler deployed to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq with Co. B, and now here to Afghanistan.

He worked construction in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before becoming a union carpenter. Between deployments, Kapler married an Oelwein, Iowa, woman, and is the proud father of three children. He said he plans to start a tool-rental business when he returns to Iowa, and his wife is taking accounting classes so she can help run the administrative side of the business.

Until he returns, he’ll continue his work in Afghanistan.NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Christian Kapler, an infantryman from Oelwein, Iowa, from Company B, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Battalion, talks on a cell phone with his interpreter March 5 at Forward Operating Base Torkham Gate. Kapler stays in constant communication with his interpreter for updates on construction projects at the FOB. The Iowa National Guard Soldier and civilian carpenter’s work is evident everywhere one sets foot on Torkham Gate. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Christian Kapler, an infantryman from Oelwein, Iowa, in Company B, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Battalion, walks through a workshop he constructed in a shipping container March 5 at Forward Operating Base Torkham Gate, Afghanistan. Kapler supervises a crew of 44 Afghan workers who completed multiple projects to expand the FOB. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)


Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2011 04:10


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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.

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.

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.