News: Things that go ‘boom’ in the night
Story by Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus
COMBAT OUTPOST HUTAL, Afghanistan—Shortly before dusk, the soldiers mounted into their Strykers and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, and headed out the checkpoint. They picked up a squad of Afghan National Army soldiers to join the patrol. Minutes later, after driving through a tiny village on the outskirts of Hutal, they took the vehicles off Highway 1 in Kandahar Province and off-roaded to the desert.
“Our mission was to obstruct enemy activity,” said 1st Lt. Karl Tiemann, 2nd Platoon platoon leader, Able Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, and a native of Schertz, Texas.
As it got dark, soldiers switched to night vision devices to maintain sight.
“While in the desert, we saw an individual in the desert on a motorcycle with his lights off, which is actually pretty uncommon” said Tiemann. “We couldn’t get a positive identification on him, but we assessed him to be a threat. He got off of his motorcycle and took off running.”
From there, the ANA stepped in, dismounting from the vehicles and going into compounds to search for the unknown man. The ANA has created a positive presence in the villages of the Maiwand District, as they gather information about suspected terrorists who hide in the village and still from the locals.
“The Afghan National Security Forces help us find enemy forces,” said Spc. Marc Cavazos, a 2nd Plt. soldier and native of San Antonio. “This is their country so they know where to look and how to look.”
Following the village search, the platoon continued to the border of another village, where they had information regarding a man responsible for an improvised explosive device attack in May.
“I had my weapons set in a tactical firing position along the east side of the village and had my first squad in the ANA isolate karez,” said Tiemann.
A karez, an underground water channel, is frequently used by the enemy as a bed-down location and a place to store insurgent equipment.
“We had evidence they are using that area,” continued Tiemann. “They go in there, stay there at night and store their weapons. We knew this was one they were actually using.”
Based on the evidence found by the ANA in the karez, Tiemann called in the explosive ordinance disposal team to excavate the karez through explosives.
“We made a decision based on that to go ahead and drop that section of the karez,” said Tiemann. “We destroyed the IEDs and the place they used for storing materials.”
“The ANA is squared away,” concluded Cavazos. “They know their jobs and we’ve trained them well over these last years. They are good to go.”