LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team paid a special visit Dec. 15 to the Ghazni City orphanage to dedicate playground equipment donated by the family and friends of Steven Thomas Stefani of Auburn, Calif.
Other attendees at the dedication were Ghazni Provincial Gov. Musa Khan, Polish Ambassador Maciej Lang, and Polish Brig. Gen. Andrzej Reudowicz, Task Force White Eagle commander.
While working for the U.S. Forest Service in Wells, Nev., Stefani discovered the opportunity to take a nine-month assignment as a U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service advisor, helping the people of Ghazni Province develop and implement agricultural projects.
On the desolate hills of Afghanistan, one can’t be blamed for wondering how anyone could possibly make a living in such a place. Stefani was here to help the Afghans with just that. One of his many programs taught hundreds of women to raise poultry. He also helped to improve the grape production in the province, worked to get a cold storage facility built and planned for a sorely-needed tree farm. He raised the hopes of the inhabitants in this conflict-torn region that the future could be better for their children.
When he found the Ghazni City orphanage had been so torn apart due to conflict that they didn’t have a playground, toys or even soccer balls to play with, it tore at his heart. He contacted his family and friends back home asking them to contribute to this new project.
Tragically, just as the plan was developing, Stefani’s convoy, returning from another mission, was hit by a roadside bomb and the 28-year-old’s life was cut short, devastating his family and friends.
His family, knowing how Stefani hated to leave a project unfinished and wanting him to be remembered for something more than the way he died, decided to carry out his vision of a playground for this orphanage. They accepted donations in Stefani’s name to cover the cost of the playground equipment and shipping it to Ghazni Province.
Today, Ghazni is still a dangerous province beset with insurgent activity and roadside bombs. Getting the equipment here was a complicated matter plagued with delays, but PRT members stood ready to get the playground ready for use as quickly as possible once it arrived.
The orphanage is a fulltime home to 45 children and hosts a total of 120 children for the school day. It is led by orphanage director, Mir Ameenullah, and staffed with seven teachers and an administrator.
Stefani worked as a U.S. Department of Agriculture advisor to a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni Province from March 2007 until his death from a roadside explosion Oct. 4 of that same year.
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|Afghan forces, TF Bastogne continue operations in Sherzad District|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
|TF Iron eliminates insurgent IED team|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers form Task Force Iron Rakkasan and members of the Afghan Uniformed police, using the Precision Threat Detection System blimp at Forward Operating Base Andar, identified a group of insurgents with weapons and explosives Jan. 3.
|TF Iron Rakkasan uses PTDS to prevent highway robbery|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Recently, Soldiers from Task Force Iron Rakkasan watched a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police conduct an illegal checkpoint on the route between Ghazni and Sharana. Using the camera system on the Persistent Threat Detection System, Soldiers observed a man standing in the road collecting money from vehicles. The practice is common by insurgents who fund their attacks by taking money from locals.
|Joint operation helps clear Sherzad of insurgent activity|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from Task Force Bastogne began operations in the Sherzad District Dec. 23.