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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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Pat Birgy of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., finance officer for the Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team, talks through an interpreter to a local resident along the canal that runs through and out of Asadabad, the provincial capital, during a foot patrol along the canal as U.S. Army Warrant Officer 1 Marty Osmundsen of Des Moines, Iowa, ADT construction specialist, provides security March 22. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn, 734th Agribusiness Development Team)KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Leaders of the Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team decided to put a canal-cleaning project in the provincial capital of Asadabad on hold after a foot patrol along the canal showed the project to be unnecessary.

U.S. Army Capt. Pat Birgy of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., is the ADT’s finance officer and manages the Commander’s Emergency Response Program for the ADT. He explained why the ADT conducted the foot patrol along the Asadabad canal.

“This was presented as a time-sensitive, urgent need by certain members of the (Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock),” he said. “However, we still felt we should go out and assess the condition of the canal and talk to the villagers along the canal to make sure the project made sense prior to funding it.”

Birgy and more than a dozen other members of the ADT, including the ADT’s hydrologist, U.S. Army Master Sgt. Steve Holding of Jaynesville, Iowa, patrolled on either side of the canal for several kilometers March 22. During the patrol, ADT members met and talked with dozens of the Afghans who live alongside the canal.

One of the Afghans with whom Holding spoke was Hayatullah lives alongside the canal. Haytullah, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, is also a member of the Asadabad Community Development Council.

“This canal has been cleaned,” Hayatullah said. “The people who live by the canal have already cleaned it, as we do every year.”

In fact, Holding, Birgy and the other ADT members heard much the same thing from each Afghan they talked to as they patrolled down the canal.

“This experience provides further validation of the old intelligence saying, ‘Trust, but verify,’” said Birgy, who pointed out Afghanistan recently ranked second only to Somalia on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. “With every project, regardless of cost, we have to maintain a level of professional skepticism,” he added.

“Billions of dollars have been spent on efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, so one small canal project may not seem like much,” Birgy continued. “But fiscal responsibility starts at the lowest possible level, and we feel like every penny of the taxpayer’s dollar should be properly spent here.”

In the meantime, the ADT will turn its attention to why members of the provincial DAIL sought funding for the canal-cleaning project to begin with, according to U.S. Army Col. Craig Bargfrede of Ankeny, Iowa, ADT commander.

“This is an excellent mentorship opportunity for the (DAIL) director,” Bargfrede said. “It will give him a chance to identify and fix a process within his organization that obviously didn’t work properly.”
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Master Sgt. Steve Holding of Jaynesville, Iowa, hydrologist for the Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team, talks with Hayatullah, a local resident and member of the Asadabad Community Development Council, during a foot patrol along a canal that runs through the provincial capital of Asadabad March 22. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn, 734th Agribusiness Development Team)KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Members of the Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team pass an Afghan girl as they conduct a foot patrol down the Asadabad canal to determine if the canal needs to be cleaned March 22. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn, 734th Agribusiness Development Team)



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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.