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PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Working alongside their Afghan counterparts, members of the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment conducted their first air-assault in Afghanistan since 2002 in the village of Haji Wati in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, March 30.
Known as Operation Iron Oqab, the mission was planned and conducted in conjunction with the Kushamond Afghan Uniformed Police and soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 203rd Corps.
The operation was spearheaded by soldiers from the ANA who entered and cleared the village before speaking to residents about insurgents.
Soldiers from 3-187’s Inf. Reg., Company B isolated the area to prevent anyone from entering or leaving the village while members of the Afghan National Security Forces searched for insurgent leaders and weapons caches.
Originally, the operation was planned for the clearance of one village, but the ANSF operated so well that the operation was expanded to clear multiple villages, said U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Schwengler, commander of Co. B, 3-187th Inf. Reg., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
During the operation, materials used to build pressure plate improvised explosive devices were discovered and secured by the ANSF, removing them from the battlefield to ensure they are not used against Afghan or coalition forces in the future, Schwengler later said.
“Operation Iron Oqab was instrumental in showing the (militants) that ANSF and International Security Assistance Forces will go anywhere to disrupt their operations,” Schwengler said.
AUP team leader Adam Khan described the air assault as, “a good way to send a message to the [insurgents]. They should go away from here or turn themselves in. We are going to take the fight to them and make this area safe for CF and hostile to the [insurgents].”
Members of 3-187 Inf. Reg. who participated in the operation said they were impressed by ANSF performance.
“The entire process, from gathering the intelligence, to the sound planning, to the precise execution, was a great example of the professionalism of the Afghan forces accomplish,” said U.S. Army Capt. Kevin Tanquary, the battalions’ fire support officer.
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