News: Warhorse eases tension In village of Khuribad
Story by Spc. Christopher Smythers
ORO GRANDE BASE CAMP, N.M. – Not all cavalry missions are lethal.
In fact, as the U.S. prepares to entrust the defense of Afghanistan to the Afghan National Security Forces, peaceful encounters are becoming ever more commonplace.
The Troopers of Blackhawk Troop, 1st Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team orchestrated a key-leader engagement July 22 at the simulated Afghan village of Khuribad on Fort Bliss, N.M.
Warhorse Squadron was participating in Iron Focus, an exercise in which the Soldiers of 3rd Brigade prepared for eventual deployment to Afghanistan.
“You've got to interact with the people,” said Lt. Col. John J. McDermott, Warhorse squadron commander. “Not everyone is a bad person. They have real issues and need help solving them.”
The elders asked McDermott, who interacted with the village almost daily, to speak with them about a simulated Koran burning which had happened in the U.S. as part of the scenario.
“You have to go out there, find out what their issues are and let them know what you can do to help them,” he said. “These days it's not as clear or as simple as it used to be.”
In the scenario, the people of Khuribad, enraged by the desecration of their holy book, ceased cooperating with American forces.
The people demanded a public explanation and apology.
“They were upset, and rightfully so,” said McDermott. “They wanted answers. It is difficult to answer their concerns and not compromise what we believe as Americans.”
He offered a comparison to the terrorist attacks that led to our initial operations in Afghanistan. He asked the elders not to hold an entire people responsible for the actions of a very few extremists.
Due to the impression his argument made on the elders, the relationship between Warhorse and Khuribad recovered.
“You have to learn to address their concerns, put out the fire or deal with the issue at hand without doing so at the expense of the long-term goal of the mission,” he said. “It’s very easy to go with a short term solution that compromises who we are and what we're about but really doesn't do anything to address the plan or solve the long term issues.”
“Exercises like this allow us to be placed in a very realistic scenario,” said McDermott. “We can explore ways to approach the situation and use the negative issue as a way to work ahead with the people.”