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So the Democrats say they want to see more visible effort on Iraqi government and her people before they will pay our men and women for the work we sent them there to do? Well, check this out:

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – The number of Iraqi-led reconciliation efforts swelled over the past two weeks across Multi-National Division – Center as local Iraqi leaders seek to capitalize on an improved security situation by developing the institutions that will enable long-term stability.

With Coalition Forces and Iraqi Concerned Local Citizens working increasingly in tandem with the Iraqi Police and Army to solidify security relationships, a window has opened for local leadership to push forward business development and infrastructure repair and forge political relationships across sects and neighborhoods.

On Nov. 26, Khalif Haloos of the Sadr al Yusifiyah Nahia Governance Council hosted more than 500 sheiks from Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish tribes. Also in attendance were Coalition Forces from the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who were the invited guests of the Iraqis who organized the meeting. Security for this meeting, the largest of several important reconciliation gatherings in MND-C in recent days, was provided by the Iraqi Security Forces.

“This meeting was an example of Sunnis and Shias working together,” said Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div (AASLT). “The ISF took the lead in providing security for the meeting, and we had representation from all the key players in that area. That dynamic, coming from the local level, could be an example for the national government.”

The sheiks discussed reconciliation issues, from the return of displaced families, to a pact that would allow Iraqis of all sects to travel freely through the sheiks’ territory without fear of sectarian reprisal. They also discussed restraining Iranian influence, suppressing the remaining insurgents in their territory, and ways to integrate their activities with Iraq’s central government.

On Nov. 27 [2007] at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, leaders of the Iraqi Army and Police met with elected officials and Coalition commanders to discuss security cooperation and coordination in Babil province.

Col. Michael Garret, commander of the outgoing 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, used the occasion to say goodbye to the Iraqi leaders with whom he had worked for more than a year. Working to build on those relationships now is Col. Thomas James, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Although it’s early in James’ deployment, his brigade has seen many examples of local leaders taking steps to improve their community through Sunni and Shia cooperation, specifically from the Sunni sheik and the police chief in Musayyib. Both will tell you that they are Iraqis first, not Sunni or Shia, and only want what’s good for their country and citizens, James said.

Another meeting was held Dec. 1 on the other side of MND-C at Forward Operating Base Hammer, east of Baghdad. Iraqi civic and tribal leaders in attendance offered frank assessments of their needs and asked U.S. and Iraqi officials for continued support with stabilization efforts.

Col. Wayne Grigsby, commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said after the meeting, “I’ve spent 35 months of my life in Iraq, and this is the best I’ve ever seen it.” He noted, however, that there remain opportunities to synchronize U.S. and Iraqi efforts.

Part of that direction involves parlaying improved security and cooperation among the different parties to build a stepped-up reconstruction program. Similar to the reconciliation conferences that took place, the reconstruction effort is manifesting itself across MND-C as community development projects.

On Nov. 28, the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. opened a new medical clinic in Narwhan after the project was approved by Iraq’s Ministry of Health. As a signal of its commitment to the initiative, the ministry hired three doctors to work at the facility, two of whom are female.

The following day, the 1-10th FA conducted a school bag and bottled-water drop in Sabah Nisan. School children there received 180 school bags and 3,500 cases of water, distributed by the Concerned Local Citizens.

On Nov. 26, the Al-Wehda Nahia council celebrated with Iraqi and Coalition Forces the completion of a well system in al Sadiq. The system includes water pumps, storage tanks, a generator and quarters for a caretaker. The project was a joint effort by local Iraqis and Coalition Forces.

Finally, on Nov. 28, Iraqis celebrated the graduation of a class of small businessmen from an entrepreneur training program in the Mada’in Qada. The program helps develop business skills and planning among local business owners and then provides them with micro-grants to revitalize their businesses. As part of the program, U.S. military and civilian officials assess the proposals of the Iraqi graduates and award grants of up to $10,000 to eligible candidates.

Now I want you to go to your phones and dial toll free at 1-866-340-9281, and tell the Democrats to PAY OUR MEN AND WOMEN! They wanted evidence? Here it is. To continue to ignore this fact, is to ignore any and all facts they with which they disagree politically. This is outrageous, and it should not be allowed to stand. Write about it, talk about it on the radio programs, do whatever you can. Our men and women did not ask to be deployed by the same people who are now refusing to pay them so that they can make political points back home. They really, REALLY, need to stop. Thank you.

Source: CentCom News Release.

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    Source: CentCom.

    This one is dedicated to The Paratrooper of Love, so it may ease the wounds of the arse-kickin’ he suffered yesterday at the Army/Navy game. 😉

    14 November 2007
    BY Third Army Public Affairs
    .

    CAIRO, Egypt — U.S. and coalition forces conducted a “Friendship Jump” at Koum Asheem drop zone in Cairo Sunday as part of Exercise ‘Bright Star’.

    The joint-combined exercise continues through Nov. 19. It includes a computer-aided command post exercise, airborne operations, naval operations, and special forces training exercises conducted by the components of U.S. Central Command. This year’s exercise demonstrates the shift in modern warfare by focusing on technology as a battlefield enabler, USCENTCOM officials said.

    The airborne operation began at 6:30 a.m. Sunday with about 200 paratroopers participating from the United States, Egypt, Kuwait, Germany, and Yemen. There was an airborne wing exchange at the conclusion of the jump. Nearly 7,100 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors from Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yemen are participating in this year’s Bright Star exercise.

    About 200 members of the New York Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division headquarters are part of this week’s command post exercise in Egypt. The division, with supporting elements from New Hampshire, New Jersey and Minnesota, will team with members of the Egyptian Army’s 9th Armor Division command and staff to replicate a multinational senior headquarters during the battle simulation.

    Bright Star is designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships for U.S. and coalition forces while increasing awareness and appreciation of each participant’s culture, customs and professional military skills, according to the U.S Central Command.

    Bright Star is the oldest and largest exercise in the USCENTCOM area of operations. It is a biennial joint/coalition exercise designed to increase regional involvement in pursuit of improved security and defense capabilities.

    Photo – Paratroopers from five nations descend onto Koum Asheem drop zone in Egypt as part of Exercise Bright Star. Photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Buckley.

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    Source: US Central Command.

    05 November 2007
    American Forces Press Service
    .

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan – Khost Provincial Governor Arsala Jamal and all 12 of his district sub-governors hosted the first Khost Provincial Leadership Conference here Nov. 3, 2007. Also in attendance were Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S Central Command, key leaders of the Afghan national security forces, and leaders from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

    Khost province is recognized by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and coalition commanders as the “provincial model of success.” Khost has accomplished more in the past 10 months than in the previous five years, and that is due to the trust and collaborative efforts of all people living in Khost — Afghans and coalition forces alike, officials said.

    Jamal is leading and training his sub-governors and military leaders at the provincial and district levels to work directly with the people of Khost and in concert with the coalition units who train and live with their Afghan counterparts in all district centers in Khost. This arrangement has made it possible to remove the shackles of the Taliban and criminals and allow development, education, and security to flourish once again in Khost, officials said.

    Army Lt. Col. Scott Custer, who commands the International Security Assistance Force unit in Khost, said Jamal wanted to meet with all the key players to help shape and develop the future of Khost. “This is a monumental day for Khost. The purpose of today’s meeting is to build upon the strong relations among the central government of Khost province,” Custer said. “Providing a forum for the sub-governors to discuss security matters with Governor Jamal and to create the provincial development and security plan for Khost over the next 12 to 24 months ensures continued growth throughout the province.

    “Additionally, it provides the sub-governors the opportunity to share their methods of success with their peers and request any additional resources they may need from the governor to reach their goals. The responsibility is on their shoulders to take Khost into the next two years; the leaders and the people of Khost have ownership of their future.”

    Fallon praised Khost provincial and Afghan security forces leaders for their collaborative efforts and commitment toward building a safer province. He encouraged all Afghans to follow this example. “I’ve come here to see Khost for the first time,” said Fallon, who visits Afghanistan frequently. “I see the security situation as very good. I am very happy with the (development) progress that I see. I am very, very pleased to be in the company of the governor.”

    When asked why Khost was important to him, Fallon replied, “Khost … is a great example of good leadership with the governor (and) the sub-governors working closely with the ISAF units to provide security and stability for the people of this area, this province.”

    The CENTCOM commander added that Khost is the model that all other provinces should aspire to. “I want to encourage the governor and other leaders in the region to continue with the good work because I believe that this is a wonderful example to the whole country of Afghanistan,” Fallon said.

    Several government and security force leaders said the admiral’s visit shows the strategic importance of Khost to the overall security of Afghanistan.

    (From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)

    Photo – Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, talks with local media after meeting Khost Provincial Governor Jamal sub-governors at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2007. Photo by Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison, USA.

    I could not locate this news release. I do believe it is a huge mistake to allow the Taliban to have anything to do with the government or the people of Afghanistan. They are afraid and they have every right to be. The Taliban is murdering them. I have sources from Afghanistani people who live there and here for this information. I offer you this site (without the comment).

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    26 Aug 07
    by Multi-National Division-North
    Public Affairs Office
    .

    BAGHDAD – Operation Lightning Hammer concluded Wednesday after a 12-day, large-scale operation to disrupt al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements in the Diyala River Valley, a complex area of villages and palm groves in Iraq’s Diyala province.

    The operation, which involved approximately 16,000 Iraqi and Coalition forces clearing approximately 50 villages, was a key element in Multi-National Corps-Iraq’s overall operation, Phantom Strike; and resulted in 26 al-Qaeda members killed, 37 suspected terrorists detained and the discovery of 10 weapons caches. “The strength and determination of the fighting men and women from the Iraqi and Coalition forces showed great results during Lightning Hammer,” said U.S. Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of Coalition forces in Diyala province. “We have continued to diminish their supplies and disable al-Qaeda’s abilities to disrupt the population.”

    Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, partnered with members of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, initiated the operation with a late-night air assault into targeted locations on Aug. 13, and conducted an additional three air-assaults during the course of the operation. Residents of most villages welcomed the security forces, providing tips and intelligence about recent activities in their towns, and were interested in joining the Iraqi Security Forces. Following clearing operations, the Iraqi Army provided medical assistance and humanitarian aid to the local citizens, many of whom said their villages were recently influenced by al-Qaeda.

    More importantly, more than 80 tribal leaders and representatives, some of whom had not spoken in over a year, met Aug. 19 to discuss their grievances and swore on the Quran to unite in their fight against terrorists and become one tribe of Diyala. “As I conducted my battlefield circulation and talked with many of the citizens, they repeatedly thanked our Soldiers, but more importantly, their security forces, for liberating their towns from the terrorists – specifically al-Qaeda,” Sutherland said. “Because their villages have been cleared, the local and central governments will now be able to provide those essential services al-Qaeda destroyed, and the people feel a sense of security they have not known for some time.”

    Throughout the operation, the Task Force Lightning Soldiers also discovered 22 improvised explosive devices, 11 of which were discovered based on tips from a police chief in the river valley, and reduced three house-borne IEDs and six vehicle-borne IEDs, all of which could have been used to harm a large portion of the population or security forces. Additionally, an al-Qaeda command post was discovered in the village of Shadia, and an al-Qaeda medical clinic was located in Qaryat Sunayjiyah.

    The command post, which was surrounded by fighting positions, contained bed space for 20 individuals, supply requests, records of munitions, a list of families supporting the element, a list of al-Qaeda members detained by Coalition forces and other terrorist propaganda. “Although we didn’t find many of the terrorists, the operation proved to be a great success because we disrupted al-Qaeda, causing them to run,” Sutherland continued. “Their fear of facing our forces proves that the terrorists know there is no safe haven for them in Diyala.

    “And though this specific operation is over, our fight is not over,” he continued. “We will continue to aggressively target al-Qaeda, and ultimately, they will be brought to justice.” The results of Lightning Hammer cleared the Diyala River Valley of al-Qaeda and allowed Iraqi and Coalition forces to maintain a permanent presence in Mukeisha, a village in the heart of the river valley area.

    Photo – Spc. Samuel Melendez, Bravo Trop, 5th Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, patrols a mrash outside of Qubah, a small village in the Diyala province. The patrol was part of Operation Lightning Hammer, a maneuver to flush insurgents from the area. Photo by Sgt. Patrick Lair, 115th MPAD.

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    20 Aug 07
    USS Enterprise Public Affairs
    .

    ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE – Enterprise Carrier Strike Group commenced operations in the Persian Gulf Aug. 10, where they are currently deployed to support maritime security operations as well as Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

    20 Aug 07
    USS Enterprise Public Affairs

    Rear Adm. Daniel P. Holloway, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12/Enterprise Strike Group, said the strike group is ready to do what it takes to accomplish the mission. “This is part of what we are out here to do,” said Holloway. “We are a nation at war and we will continue to do our part to stabilize the current situation in Iraq and eliminate terrorist threats.”

    Enterprise CSG’s deployment will help reassure U.S. allies in the region of the Navy’s commitment to set conditions for security and stability for vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. Maritime security operations have a strong track record of providing security and stability in the maritime environment through coordinated operations with coalition partners that complement the security efforts of friends and allies in the region.

    The presence of Enterprise CSG in the region allows the coalition to flex multi-dimensional task force capabilities and demonstrate the ability to respond to threats to maritime security. Enterprise CSG also commenced the first combat missions of their current deployment Aug. 12 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1, stationed aboard USS Enterprise, conducted multiple-strike missions by providing air support to coalition ground forces.

    U.S. naval and air presence in the region is the continuation of a six decade-long U.S. policy to stand by friends and allies among Gulf Cooperation Council nations and protect the free flow of commerce. These relationships support and encourage regional stability and cooperation. U.S. forces will continue to maintain this regional presence to deter destabilizing activities, while safeguarding the region’s vital links to the global economy.

    The squadrons of CVW-1 include the “Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron 211; Knighthawks” of VFA-136; “Sidewinders” of VFA-86; “Thunderbolts” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251; “Dragonslayers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 11; “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron 137; “Screwtops” of VAW-123; “Maulers” of Sea Control Squadron 32; and the “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40.

    Photo – The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise conducts maritime operations in the Persian Gulf, Aug. 17, 2007. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Brandon Morris.

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    14 Aug 07
    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Christopher T. Smith
    Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet
    .

    NORTH PERSIAN GULF (NNS) – Coalition forces are training Iraqi marines to take over the mission of providing security to Iraqi territorial waters in the North Persian Gulf.

    Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 has been conducting a dual mission aboard Iraq’s Khwar Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) and Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) in the Persian Gulf. MSD-24 provides security for the platforms as part of the Coalition’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 158 while simultaneously training Iraqi marines to eventually assume responsibility for the protection of Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure.

    Gunner’s Mate 1st Class (EXW/SW) Timothy Burrell said the Iraqi forces are undergoing advanced training on a variety of possible threats. “They are now countering multiple threats while experiencing casualties such as loss of power and loss of communications. Their exercises [the] last 24 hours [were] rather than just a few,” said Burrell. “They’re really working toward taking ownership of the platforms.”

    Lt. J.G. Danny Soria, ABOT’s officer in charge, agrees that the Iraqis’ training has paid dividends. “The Iraqi marines have responded well to our training program,” said Soria. “Since our arrival, the platoons that have been observed have improved their readiness drastically.” Iraqi marines stand all of the watches aboard ABOT and KAAOT. “Currently, the Iraqi marines are our eyes and ears and the first to react to the threat,” said Soria. “MSD stands a reactionary force.”

    In addition to preparing the Iraqis to better defend the oil platforms, Coalition forces are preparing teams of Iraqi marines to conduct their own Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations.

    Coalition forces joined with the Iraqis to conduct Exercise Rapid Talon, Aug. 6, in the North Persian Gulf. During the exercise, Iraqi marines boarded a tugboat that simulated a commercial vessel transiting the region. “Rapid Talon is a routine exercise that we use to evaluate Iraqi boarding teams,” said Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Iain Doran, CTF 158’s Iraqi training and transition officer. “We put them through different scenarios to test their core skills and rate their proficiency level.”

    The marines, who are trained by the U.S. Coast Guard, are not only conducting exercises, they are also involved in real-world VBSS operations. “Depending on how well the Iraqi platoons perform during Rapid Talon, the platoons conduct boardings with either a Coalition-led team, or if they performed very well, with only their U.S. Coast Guard trainers,” said Royal Navy Warrant Officer 1st Class Darren Paskins, CTF 158’s assistant Iraqi training and transition officer.

    Doran added that the platoons’ contributions to the Coalition are signs of significant progress in their training. “Some platoons have now completed solo tanker sweeps under the supervision of just two or three of their Coast Guard trainers, and the feedback we’ve received from the masters of the vessels is that the Iraqi boarding teams are very effective and professional,” said Doran. “This is quite a big step, and something that’s only been recently introduced.”

    Coalition forces are training the Iraqis to someday take the reigns of all VBSS operations in their littoral waters. “Ultimately, this training will give the Iraqis the ability to police their own territorial waters,” said Paskins. “It’s important that they get as much experience as possible, so we have them conduct as many boardings as we can in order for them to gain the experience and knowledge that are required to carry out the mission.”

    Doran stressed that although Iraqi forces are making significant strides in their training, CTF 158’s mission is still the responsibility of the Coalition. “The whole mission in the [North Persian Gulf] is conducted by the Coalition,” said Doran. “Inherently, we provide security for the oil platforms themselves and the vessels coming to and from the oil platforms. We do this by conducting Maritime Security Operations.”

    MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. Iraq’s oil platforms account for about 90 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

    Photo – Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Nickel Samuel assigned to Mobile Security Detachment (MSD) 24 observes Iraqi marines participating in a live-fire exercise. MSD-24 is training Iraqi marines to maintain security in and around the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminals, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith.

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    15 Aug 07
    Sgt. David E. Roscoe
    Task Force Pacemaker
    .

    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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