News: Outside the wire at FOB Torkham
Story by Sgt. Eric Provost
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A platoon of U.S. soldiers with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division did something on Nov. 18, 2013, that, for many U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, has become a rare occurrence: They went on patrol.
Leaving their home at Forward Operating Base Torkham, the unit left for a mid-afternoon, dismounted patrol over mountains to an Afghan Border Police checkpoint a couple kilometers away near the village of Goloco.
This was Company C’s first time visiting this checkpoint.
“The purpose was to gain situational awareness, know what’s between us and the Goloco village, engage with the officers, know what kind of personnel we have over there at the ABP checkpoint,” said Staff Sgt. Curtis Perry, platoon sergeant, 3rd Platoon.
Patrols like this are becoming more and more uncommon as Afghan National Security Forces have taken over full control of security operations for their country, but sometimes they are still necessary. The patrols give the soldiers at Torkham a better understanding of the security elements surrounding their base. The visits also allow them to build relationships with the security elements near them and to advise on ways to improve that security.
When 3rd Platoon reached the checkpoint, a team set up security around the perimeter, allowing the platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Michael Sardinas, to meet with the policemen there.
“The better linked in we are with the ABP, the safer we’ll be,” said Sardinas, a Tampa, Fla. native.
Sardinas learned that the checkpoint serves as a supply staging area for other border police elements in the area near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The checkpoint is also used to help keep supplies safe and for coordinating the dissemination of those supplies.
After discussing the checkpoint’s mission and capabilities with the ranking ABP officer on duty, Sardinas and the policemen exchanged contact information. He then took photos of the surroundings, documenting terrain features, village proximity, and other aspects of the area before he and his men began their return to Torkham.
“Everything we learn helps maintain security, especially for counter mortar fire; knowing what’s out there prevents friendly or civilian casualties,” said Perry. “Also, just knowing that [ABP] are over there, and how many, and what assets they have, that’s always a plus for security as well.”
From start to finish, the mission did not take long, but for some, the opportunity to conduct a patrol like this is something to be appreciated.
“It’s great as an infantryman to be able to get out there and still interact with people, still be able to go do our job. It’s great, the guys love it, being able to go outside the wire, still be able to take it to the enemy if need be,” said Perry.
Some of the younger soldiers say the ability to still see and experience this aspect of operations will pay dividends far beyond the intel gained from the mission itself.
“This is my first deployment,” said Spc. Brock Barry, a grenadier with 3rd Platoon, “and it’s nice to have those skills where I’ve actually gone out and conducted dismounted patrols. I’m getting skills gained from doing actual missions in an operational environment that I can then teach. It’s nice to have that experience.”