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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PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Daniel Snyder, a CH-47 Chinook flight engineer, briefs Afghan National Army soldiers on dismounting aircraft March 25. Snyder, a first sergeant in Company D, Task Force Phoenix, TF Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, trained four groups of ANSF soldiers on quick dismounts during air assaults. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amanda Jo Brown, Task Force Phoenix Public Affairs)


LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Fierce lightning shattered the night sky as a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter’s 350-pound blades sliced through the air producing a continuous rain of thunder over the otherwise quiet Galuch Valley March 25.

Crews and helicopters from Task Force Phoenix, TF Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, provided air transport for a major air assault mission in Regional Command – East in support of Afghan National Security Forces and TF Red Bull operations.

TF Phoenix collaborated with Chinook crews from TF Shooter to complete their essential mission: to provide static load training to ANSF and conduct an air assault into the Galuch Valley allowing ANSF and TF Red Bull to remove enemy forces and speak with village elders.

“Static load training with (the ANSF) is absolutely critical to the success of our operations,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dennis McKernan, TF Phoenix, TF Falcon commander, and a native of Haddon Township, N.J., “Operating around helicopters is extremely dangerous and any soldier from any country must be trained how to operate on an aircraft to include loading and unloading.  The terrain is extremely rugged in Afghanistan.  Off-loading soldiers into tight landing zones can be specifically challenging if the soldiers don't know what to do.”  

To ensure everyone was prepared to off-load an aircraft even in unsatisfactory conditions, TF Phoenix and Shooter Chinook crews flew despite lightning.

The huge engines quieted their loud roar and the blades slowed to a halt as the crews landed in Combat Outpost Xio and stepped out into the thick darkness.

“Most of the (ANSF) have never been on a CH-47 before. Cold load training allows them to get used to the aircraft and efficient at exiting the ramp when we arrive at the landing zone,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Daniel Snyder, Company D, TF Phoenix, first sergeant.

The training, conducted in complete darkness, is a simple, but crucial part of a successful air assault. It provides soldiers with familiarity of the aircraft and procedures used during a mission.

Time is of the essence during air assaults with the challenges of rugged terrain, unpredictable weather, and the threat of enemy forces hidden in the shadows, said Snyder.

“You never know what kind of landing zone you will be flying into on a mission,” said Snyder, a native of Millington, Mich., “It could have hostiles present, or it could just be a difficult landing where we can only put the back two wheels on the ground.  When that happens, there is a lot of stress on the pilots and crew.”

“The faster (passengers) exit, the less that can go wrong,” added Snyder.

The Chinook crews cycled through the groups just as efficiently as the ANSF absorbed the training.  

When the training was complete, the ANSF and TF Red Bull Soldiers loaded into the aircraft and prepared to put all of their training into action during the air assault.

The ANSF and TF Red Bull Soldiers were all business when it came time to dismount the aircraft into the shadowy mountains surrounding the valley.

“I think it’s great that the ANSF are augmented with our forces,” said Snyder, “It lets them see what right looks like.”

The aviation crews worked diligently to ensure each landing into the mountains was done to standard and done safely regardless of the unique challenges presented by the terrain.

“The greatest hazards were unimproved landing zones that can have large rocks that could damage the aircraft, or steep slopes that are near impossible to land on, unpredictable wind gusts, and enemy personnel (concealed) in the mountain sides and ditches,” said Snyder.

With experienced crews manning each helicopter, the Soldiers were confident in the success of the operation.

“Our crews are the best. We purposely stack the crews to best complement each other,” said Snyder, “All of us on this mission had done (air assaults) before.  It’s awesome when you use almost all of your training on one landing and the mission was successful. It’s an amazing feeling,”

In a matter of hours, the Chinook crews safely inserted all of the groups into the Galuch Valley with no issues.

As the crews returned to Bagram Airfield, they reflected on a successful joint mission.  U.S. Army Sgt. John Colwell, a flight engineer with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, TF Shooter, TF Falcon, 10th CAB, 10th Mountain Division, and a native of Phoenix, said he felt the ANSF were very motivated and ready for the mission.

“I feel that (Afghans) will soon be able to obtain their role as defenders in their fight against the forces threatening their country,” said Colwell.



PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army and U.S. Army Task Force Red Bull Soldiers wait to practice aircraft dismount in blackout conditions March 25. The soldiers used the training during a major joint air assault mission in Regional Command – East.(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amanda Jo Brown, Task Force Phoenix Public Affairs)

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 April 2011 21:09


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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.