News: Dragoon scouts forge relationships, help to secure KAF
Story by Spc. Joshua Edwards
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Security Forces are taking the lead in Afghanistan while partnering with Combined Task Force Dragoon in the continuing effort to create a safe and secure country.
Although the ANSF are the primary force, the responsibility of eliminating the threat of hostile forces around Kandahar Airfield falls to U.S. Forces.
The scouts with Troop P (Palehorse), 4th Squadron, CTF Dragoon, have taken on the challenge of creating a presence around the airfield by conducting reconnaissance missions and speaking with the local community in order to extinguish the possibility of enemy forces having an opportunity to attack.
With the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan fast approaching, the possibility of enemy attacks on KAF has risen. In order to eliminate such threats, troops with CTF Dragoon are tasked with providing support in defense the airfield.
"Our platoon has been tasked with setting observation points in probable areas where we have received rocket attacks from," said Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrison Hampton, senior cavalry scout for 2nd Platoon and native of Ellensburg, Wash. "Right now because of it being Ramadan and a higher threat level, we have been selected to have a presence out in sector to interdict any rockets we can find."
Establishing a presence in Kandahar around the airfield is important because it tends to intimidate the enemy, Hampton said. The platoon is motivated to provide this support as they have been training for this type of mission for quite some time.
"If we are out there and U.S. vehicles are in the area, (the enemy) are very unlikely to launch a rocket because they know we will be able to get to them pretty quickly," said 1st Lt. Ryan P. McCullough, a platoon leader with Palehorse and native of Pittsburgh, Pa. "Now that we have been able to get out there, my guys are more alert; they are loving that they are getting to do their job and do active patrols; they feel like they are making a difference."
These missions also provide an opportunity for the troops to get to know locals in the area and show that U.S. Forces are in a partnership with the ANSF. This helps to create a relationship and partnership between the military and the local community.
"The local nationals around have been very helpful," said Hampton. "On our first mission, it was a local sheep herder who pointed out an IED to us which, in turn, prevented us from hitting it. Anytime we go out, we stop and try and talk to anyone who wants to engage us, that way you just build up the relationship."
One thing that can contribute to the success of any mission is the amount of motivation behind those who are performing it. The troops of 2nd platoon enjoy their job and have a positive attitude while on missions to protect others.
"Its fun to be out here," said McCullough. "It's surprising everyone how similar our mission here is to the training we have had. To do some of the conventional scout missions is well received because they are really comfortable with it."