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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GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – He’s never had to take a platform to the voters, deal with critical press coverage or balance the books at City Hall. But, as mayor of Combat Outpost Deh Yak, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Wesley Shealey has more in common with his civilian counterparts than most people know.

Both work to ensure the safety and health of their communities, provide recreational opportunities and facilitate orderly traffic flow. The big difference is that Shealey governs in eastern Afghanistan and not Main Street, U.S.A.

Shealey, an infantryman assigned to the Fort Knox, Ky.-based Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, is serving a one-year deployment that began in January.

Less than a week into his tour, the Jacksonville, Fla., native was designated by his superiors to be the COP Deh Yak mayor, largely because he possessed the initiative and personality needed to not only interact with locals, but also with Soldiers seeking answers to numerous problems.
He’s balancing his new mayoral duties alongside his regular job as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the company’s operations intelligence team.

“I’m still only getting one paycheck,” he joked.

The duties he is entrusted with as mayor are a fulltime job in their own right. Having days off like a civilian mayor is a luxury he hasn’t enjoyed yet, largely due to the upkeep of life support systems like plumbing and electrical on which his Soldierly constituents depend. It’s a testament to Shealey’s abilities that his superiors felt he was the right man for the position.

“The COP mayor is a jack-of-all-trades with one of the most important positions on any installation,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Michael Berry, Company C, 2nd Bn., 2nd Inf., and a native of Columbia, S.C.

Berry, and U.S. Army Capt. Michael Carrion of Bell Buckle, Tenn., Co. C’s commander, receive a daily report from Shealey summarizing outstanding COP issues.

Those concerns include the necessity of maintaining adequate fuel resources that are needed to keep all tactical operations at the COP functioning seamlessly.

“You can’t survive without it,” Berry said of Shealey’s role.

As for his other mayoral duties, name the civilian equivalent and odds are good Shealey is doing it.

Waste water and fresh water concerns? He purifies and regularly tests the non-potable water used by Soldiers for personal hygiene, and stages bottled water across the COP for drinking.

Fire prevention? He maintains fire control measures and equipment near the many fuel points, which have pumps that require his new generator mechanic skills.

Shealey even dabbles with police-type work; ensuring local workers are properly escorted around the COP and Jinga trucks making deliveries follow COP traffic regulations.

Shealey even manages to supervise the Morale, Welfare and Recreation center, acquires new fitness equipment and assists with other morale issues.

For Soldiers deployed to a distant, isolated location such as Afghanistan, those other issues often come down to receiving letters and packages from home. The mayor helps sort the mail and puts the word out when it arrives, but even he’s not a miracle worker when it comes to the post office.

“Mail is a little slow, with some letters taking a month to get here. It’s one of the biggest issues,” said Shealey.

All of these daily tasks are accomplished with only one fulltime assistant, U.S. Army Spc. Victor Garcia, a Co. C infantryman from Denver, Colo., who knew Shealey long before the present deployment.

“He was one of the first mentors I had at Fort Knox,” Garcia said.

Effectively governing COP Deh Yak and developing young Soldiers into leaders are his main professional obligations, but a planned retirement from the Army is also on the horizon.

Shealey may even resume his civilian career as a paramedic, a position he held during a break in military service from 1999-2003.

His wife Alisha is a nurse and they have three sons who range in age from 5 to 9, all of whom probably look forward to Shealey switching to the hats of husband and father.

The chance to have made a positive contribution for his community and its residents is important to Shealey, as it should be to any mayor.

Still, his most enduring legacy might be how well COP Deh Yak could function in his absence, a scenario only made possible by a mayor who cared enough to share his knowledge and concern for the common good with those who may one day walk in his own or similar shoes.

If that’s the case, Mayor Shealey may be heading for a landslide victory.

“Everything that he does, I’m able to do it if he’s away because of his training and coaching,” said Garcia.




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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.