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Archive for the ‘ANP’ Category

15 Aug 07
Sgt. David E. Roscoe
Task Force Pacemaker
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FORWARD OPERATING BASE ORGUN-E, Afghanistan – U.S. Army engineers in Afghanistan are doing their part to restore security and the country’s economy by building roads, bridges and levees to connect Afghanistan’s people.

Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and mountainous landscape isolates most of the population from the country’s major cities and industrial area. Lack of funding, harsh seasonal weather and flash floods have made it almost impossible to maintain a lasting road system within the country. Only about 35,000 kilometers of roads connect the country’s economic centers. This explains why one of the main goals for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other engineer units is to build and repair an efficient road system in Afghanistan.

However, major concerns arise for soldiers constructing roads in a combat environment. Improvised explosive devices, car bombs and ambushes are a constant threat to soldiers working on roads. “Our company has been attacked by one IED and one (car bomb), found three IEDs, and been ambushed three times while conducting road-construction missions in Afghanistan,” Army Capt. Nicholas O. Melin, commander of Company B, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, said. “The motivating thing about all this is that our soldiers are not allowing these obstacles to stop them, and they have maintained their good spirits in the face of danger.”

Unpredictable rainfall in Afghanistan also has been a major threat for local homes and crops as local rivers flood. This was the case in Sira Qala, a community outside Forward Operating Base Sharana, where an aging levee suffered major flood damage threatening the village’s economy. Army 1st Lt. Robert Green, Equipment Platoon leader with Headquarters and Support Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, was tasked to repair the levee. “I think it was an important construction mission with an immediate impact on the population,” he said. “While it may not be a permanent solution to the problem, it will at least continue to protect the village for another couple seasons.”

Connecting Afghan civilians to cities with medical facilities also has been a major road construction goal for the battalion, dubbed Task Force Pacemaker for its Afghanistan deployment. In June, the battalion’s Company A completed a 15-kilometer road that connected the village of Khyur Khot to the town of Mest.

“The Alpha Company road-construction mission was very important because it connected the locals in that area to the town of Mest, which has medical facilities,” Army Capt. Mona A. Tanner, TF Pacemaker plans officer, said. “The road also provided coalition forces with freedom of movement between the two areas. The Alpha Company soldiers were consistent, determined and didn’t let delays weaken their spirits.”

Army Lt. Col. Mark J. Deschenes, the TF Pacemaker commander, added: “The primary purpose of Task Force Pacemaker’s road-construction mission is to maximize mobility for coalition forces and the Afghan people. The roads that we are constructing support economic growth and an efficient security presence in the country. Locals are able to travel from point A to point B easier than they were able to in the past.

“They are able to reach medical services and job opportunities with less difficulty,” he added. “The roads also allow for an increased security capability for coalition forces, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, providing a safer environment for everyone.”

Photo – Army Staff Sgt. Troy L. Bohanon, a member of Company A, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, surveys the Khyur Khot to Mest road. U.S. Army photo.

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31 July 07
By Sgt. Brandon Aird
173rd ABCT Public Affairs
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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team spent July 22-28 in Dangam district in Kunar province near the Pakistan border. The area is surrounded by lush farms that thrive from a stream flowing through the valley.

The Soldiers are from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), and they were in the area to help fortify the position of an Afghan National Police station and also to establish and reinforce observations posts with the Afghan National Army on nearby hilltops.

The OPs help monitor and stop Taliban extremist movement in the area. Red Platoon named the OPs after one Soldier’s mom, another’s daughter, Sandra and Haden respectively and famous TV stars:, Chuck Norris and Mr. T. “We thought of the baddest dudes we knew,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Benoit, a squad leader in Red Platoon. “Naming OPs like we do helps keep morale up.”

Even though the atmosphere in Red Platoon is a little laid back, the Soldiers take their jobs seriously. From OPs Norris and Mr. T, the platoon observed cross-border activity, called for and adjusted indirect fires, and engaged the enemy with direct fire.

“Our mission was to establish a joint security station in the Dangam area with the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army,” said Army 1st Lt. Jesus Rubio, Red Platoon leader. “We’re also out here to get situational awareness of the area and build friendships with the local leaders.”

The district center of Dangam is a sign of progress for the local ANP. The center has a store, mosque, police station and a school for girls and boys. It also has computers and internet capabilities.

Red Platoon has built up the area around the ANP station to better safeguard against attacks from Taliban extremists. The district center fortifications are just a small piece of the mission. The observation posts that Red Platoon maintains also help build cohesion between the Soldiers and the local populace. “We met the new Afghan Border Patrol commander while we were out at Mr. T,” said Benoit. “A local villager walked all the way up the mountain to tell us the whole valley was talking about us. Everyone was very excited we were up here, he told us.”

Another benefit of establishing OPs throughout the valley is the intelligence that was gathered. “We observed the bad guys moving on the mountain,” said Benoit. “We also got names of smugglers. We definitely laid the grounds for long-term relationships with the locals.”

Red Platoon is in the initial phase of helping build up the district center. Future joint operations will continue for the next 14 months that Red Platoon will be in Afghanistan.

Numerous times at OPs and at the district center, the local village elders would invite the Soldiers over to their houses for food and tea. “The Afghans treated us like kings at Mr. Ts,” said Benoit. “It was awesome.”

Photo – Paratroopers from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), navigate to Observation Post Chuck Norris July 25 in Dangam, Kunar province. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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