News: 3rd ID infantrymen foster new relationships in eastern Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army infantrymen with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, drove to an Afghan National Army outpost, outside of Forward Operating Base Shank, eastern Afghanistan, Aug. 21, to partner with ANA soldiers from 5th Kandak, 4th Infantry Brigade, 203rd Corps.
Their visit is intended to help foster good relationships as they conduct partnered security operations to increase security for the citizens of Logar province.
Upon arriving to the outpost, the soldier’s with 3rd Platoon, Company B, secured a perimeter as 2nd Lt. Gene Grundy, a New York City native, and the 3rd Platoon leader asked the interpreter to call out to the ANA on the security towers and request to come in.
The request was well received as Grundy was greeted by the outpost ANA commander as soldiers jumped on the towers to help keep watch alongside the ANA soldiers.
Grundy and the ANA commander sat down to discuss the current situation at the outpost and in the nearby village, where the U.S. soldiers had not been before. After discussing some security concerns, they decided not to enter the village.
“They had a relationship with the town and didn’t want to compromise that in the future,” Grundy said. “In respect to their wishes, we decided to conduct a KLE [key leader engagement] ... in an area where it wouldn’t be regarded as threatening to the town.”
As the sun started to go down, the soldiers relaxed and took turns on the towers. The ANA soldiers made tea and challenged the U.S. soldiers to a board game that resembled a cross between checkers and pool, followed by a friendly game of volleyball. After the handshakes and smiles, it was clear they were all winners.
“They’ll go out of their way to help … and they like to trade,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Cody Webster, a Phenix City, Ala., native, and the M249 squad automatic weapon gunner for 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon.
When the prayer time neared, the soldiers secured their gear as the ANA led the patrol to the town entrance where local citizens usually meet. They were greeted by the smiles of children, who asked for chocolate, as the joint security element ensured a secure perimeter.
Grundy and the ANA commander talked to the citizens, who received them with no regards, and handed out a tip line phone number where the citizens could make confidential reports of suspicious events to the provincial authorities.
As the sun hid behind the ridgeline, the ANA and U.S. infantrymen peacefully departed a place they plan to visit again.
Cody has been on many similar missions and said he plans to take everything he learned back to Fort Stewart, Ga., and share with his fellow soldiers.
“I’ve learned the people here … just want to live their lives,” said Cody, who joined less than a year ago and is on his first combat tour.
In the last six months, the soldiers of 3-7 Infantry Regiment or Task Force Baler, are always on alert and have been successful against enemy engagements numerous times.
Spc. Devonte Curry, from Detroit, and an infantryman with 3rd Platoon, said they didn’t plan for everything they encountered, but he credited their success to his command. “We got out here, saw what we had and adjusted,” he said.
The successful interaction leaders have with their Afghan partners is also credited to the soldiers watching their back.
“They are an extremely competent and motivated group of soldiers,” Grundy added. “They’ve proven themselves to be assumingly reliable both on and off duty – they’re just fantastic soldiers.”