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)
TF No Slack is the first battalion in the 101st Airborne Division and all of Afghanistan to make their re-enlistment quota for fiscal year 2011 during some of the most intense fighting of Operation Enduring Freedom said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert A. Reynolds, a career counselor from Clarksville, Tenn., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Div.
Petraeus said there was a reason so many TF No Slack Soldiers want to stay.
"As we look at those who are re-enlisting today we ask, 'Why in the world are they doing this?' It's not for the stock options, I'm sure of that," said Petraeus. "At the end of the day, this is all about teams, all about air assault buddies."
In the crowd, there were two Soldiers who re-enlisted to continue being battle buddies for each other and their fallen comrades.
U.S. Army Sgt. James Schmidt from Decatur, Ill., and U.S. Army Sgt. George S. Rueda from Norwalk, Calif., two squad leaders who deployed with 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Kunar Province just a few years ago, signed another three-year contract.
After serving in the Korengal and Wygal Valleys at Observation Post Restrepo and Combat Outpost Bella, they moved to Fort Campbell, Ky., at the same time.
"I had just gotten to the battalion conference room and the battalion commander came in," said Schmidt. "I was with my buddy Rudy [Rueda] and he saw our patches and said, 'Oh, 173rd, huh? You guys know anything about the Kunar Province?' And we just looked at each other and were like, 'You gotta be kidding me, there’s no way.'"
As they raised their right hands for re-enlistment, metal bracelets etched with names of fallen comrades weighed heavy on their arms.
"I think that’s why I re-enlisted," said Schmidt. "I was thinking about getting out after last deployment, but I didn’t want to give up after these guys gave it their all. They lost their lives doing something they believed in, and I think it would have tore me up the rest of my life if I would have just stopped and not come back here … It reminds me of why I’m here."
Rueda agreed and said he was doing it for his fallen brothers and the ones that are still with him.
"You can't find this brotherhood anywhere else," said Rueda. "Family back home is always there to back each and every one of us, but here there's a different kind of family. You got your brothers to your left and your right that will do anything for you."
Throughout this tour, the two Soldiers kept in contact and reminisced about hanging out together and planned their next barbecues.
"It's funny knowing that he's just right across the river from me this deployment and he was right across the river from me last deployment," said Schmidt. "It's good having another two-timer to the Kunar."
They laughed at each other and both agreed that it was comforting. They also agreed that it was great to finally meet Petraeus.
"It was a privilege and honor to hear that Gen. Petraeus was going to be here to re-enlist us," said Rueda. "Just to see him in person was an honor."
Before reciting the oath of re-enlistment, Petraeus said these Soldiers have a gloried history and have added their own heroic chapter to it this deployment. He also said the honor to re-enlist these TF No Slack heroes was all his.
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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed seven insurgents in defensive operations in the Alah Say District, Kapisa Province, eastern Afghanistan, March 29.
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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.