News: US, Afghan soldiers build partnership, skills, Friendship Gate
Story by Sgt. Bob Yarbrough
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers from the 4th Kandak Engineer Coy, 4th Brigade, 203rd Corps, and U.S. Army soldiers from the 857th Engineer Company, 1st Engineer Battalion, worked together to build a new gate connecting Camp Maiwand and Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar province, Afghanistan, March 13.
U.S. Army Sgt. Roy Lipscomb, a Biloxi, Miss., native, leads the team from the 857th Engineer Company, attached to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, in training Afghan engineers in operating heavy machinery including front loaders and backhoes.
Lipscomb’s team included two heavy equipment operators, U.S. Army Spc. David Tripplet and Spc. Trey Smith, who trained and qualified four Afghan National Army soldiers as equipment operators.
The 857th engineers were tasked with building the gate, while continuing to train their Afghan counterparts.
“I mentioned in the meeting that we’d like the ANA to participate, and make it a training and partnership operation” said Lipscomb.
From there, the ANA 4th Kandak Garrison Support Unit and the 4th IBCT Security Forces Advise and Assist Team supported the gathering of materials and manpower necessary to complete the project.
ANA Staff Sgt. Najmudin, the team leader for the engineer trainees, was pleased with the level of training his team received.
“We are thankful for the soldiers who trained us here, and at our 4th Kandak area.”
The Afghan soldiers completed the majority of the work on the gate using Afghan army equipment.
Tripplet, a Starkville, Miss., native, was impressed with the Afghan soldiers.
“They’ve picked it up really well and they’re really eager to learn,” he said.
During most training, teams use only one interpreter, which makes it challenging to work with a large group but the U.S. and ANA soldiers used hand and arm signals common in construction to communicate, which minimized the need for the interpreter and also increased safety.
The Friendship Gate was completed and officially opened, April 22, after a ribbon cutting ceremony presided over by ANA Col. Muhammad Zaman Malang, the Garrison Support Unit commander. U.S. Army Col. Kimo Gallahue, the 4th IBCT commander, and ANA Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq, the 4th Brigade, 203rd Corps commander, cut the ribbon to signify the opening of the gate. Sixteen ANA soldiers were also recognized for their hard work in completing the project.