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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)
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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)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In what members of 2nd Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman, said has been a long, ongoing process, the platoon is one step closer to building a relationship with the nearby village of Marshala Kamar by delivering supplies, April 13.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chris Brenke, the 2nd Plt., 133rd Inf. a part the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, platoon sergeant, from East Dubuque, Ill. isited the village.
“I saw that while the condition of the school was good, they were lacking in school supplies,” he said.
The people of the village told him the Afghan government had difficulty providing the school with supplies. So Brenke decided to see what he could do to help. He spoke with his sister-in-law, Nici Hilby, a teacher at the Eleanor Roosevelt School in Dubuque, Iowa, and told her about the school.
Hilby arranged a drive for supplies. People brought extra school supplies during parent-teacher conferences, and in a short period of time, Hilby gathered 20 boxes of supplies. Brenke gave the first two to the Marshala Kamar School principal, Mohammed Umar.
Umar said the supplies will be put to good use.
”These supplies will help our children to become educated,” Umar said.
U.S. Army Lt. Garion Ford, 2nd Plt. leader, was impressed with how much the kids have learned at the school with the limited resources they had.
“I was visiting the school, and one of the kids started spouting some English,” said Ford, a Knoxville, Tenn., native. “They know English, which means they know it in Pashto as well. They know basic math, because when I first got into the school, I was asking a kid some basic division questions because he knew English really well. He was answering them all in English correctly. It’s a testament to Principal Umar.”
Ford explained how much the supplies really do help the children.
“Anything helps,” said Ford. “I mean, they don’t have paper and pens. They have one chalkboard, and they’re teaching 300 kids of all grades that way. They all ask for pens, because that is the sign of an educated person here now, so they all want one, it’s a thing of pride to have a pen.”
“Over here you give a kid a notebook and a pen, and it’s Christmas,” Brenke added.
The platoon didn’t stop with the school supplies. They noticed some of the beams on the village’s bridge were becoming worn and needed to be replaced. So 2nd Plt. scoured their supply yard, getting a few pieces of lumber they had on hand that had not been used for any projects, and delivered it to the villagers.
“We will use the plywood and lumber to fix our bridge,” said Haji Jibar, a village elder. “We want to help these Americans to bring security and peace to our village, because they have come to help rebuild our village and serve our people.”
The village, which lies along the banks of the Kabul River, one of the main rivers in Afghanistan, claims about 500 residents. The villagers told 2nd Plt. it had not been visited by coalition forces for more than two years.
Ford said it was initially a challenge to build a rapport with the village.
“The first time we went in there, the females literally ran away scared,” said Ford. “Most of the people had never seen an American, besides driving by in up-armoured vehicles.”
Ford admitted while the platoon strives to maintain a good relationship with all of the villages in their area of operations, Marshala Kamar was of particular interest to the platoon.
“They were in a gray area, the town could have gone either way,” Ford said. “They are a waypoint between the Bad Pakh area and the Dergy Valley. The bridge in their town is one of only two in the province you can cross the river on. It’s a very important village strategically to have on our side.”
The platoon, who arrived in country late October, visited Marshala Kamar seven times now.
Brenke thinks the platoon is slowly and steadily building what they consider to be a good relationship with the town.
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