News: 1-12 Inf. develops relationships through joint patrols and celebrating Afghan culture
Story by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston
MORGHAN KECHAH, Afghanistan - The evening sun shone on the domed homes and outbuildings of the small Afghan village of Morghan Kechah, giving them a gilded appearance. Hundreds of kids playing in the dirt streets gathered with curiosity near the village’s schoolhouse to see what the Americans were doing in their village.
On Aug. 18, the eve of Afghanistan’s Independence Day, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s 1st Battalion, 12th Inf. Regiment, conducted a joint patrol with the Afghan Uniformed Police in the village to assess security, talk with village elders, relay intelligence, and to celebrate their independence day over dinner. The evening’s events served to create bonds of trust with the AUP as the 1-12 Soldiers are fairly new to the area, having just taken responsibility for its security.
The partners began their evening with a joint patrol into Morghan Kechah to talk with a village leader, known as a malik, and establish some kind of trust with both the AUP and the villagers, explained 2nd Lt. Trevor Hanson, a Houston native who serves as a platoon leader with Charlie Company, 1-12 Inf. He also said they wanted and to see what security concerns the villagers had.
Like building anything, you have to start from the ground up when building trust. Hanson explained that his platoon just took responsibility for the area approximately two weeks ago, and has been getting to know the locals and AUP commanders so he can work effectively.
“When you come out to these villages, you can’t assume that they’re just going to give you information about the area. You have to talk to them, you have to sincerely ask about their families, really get to know them,” Hanson said, “and once you establish that bond of trust, gathering information just comes as a byproduct of your relationship.”
After spending some time with the AUP in the village and chatting with village elders, the joint patrol moved to an AUP checkpoint that over watches the village. There they distributed current intelligence to AUP commanders, and reviewed what was assessed in the village.
“The village is heavily used by insurgents for weapons transport and safe haven, so we’re trying to help the AUP develop ways they can identify dangerous people,” said 2nd Lt. Isaac Gutierrez, a native of Santa Rosa, Calif., who serves as a battalion assistant intelligence officer for the 1-12 Inf. “So today what we did during our intelligence rundown was discuss current and potential threats that were moving through their village. We mentioned ways to mitigate the threat and identified training that they’ll need to be effective.”
Once a thorough intelligence breakdown was completed and traffic control point training plans made, both the AUP and the 1-12 Inf. brought food to the table for their celebration.
“Our dinner with the AUP was to celebrate their independence day and to do some cultural bridging,” Gutierrez said. “We brought some of our food and they prepared some Afghan food… We had a good time with them with some relaxed conversation and laughter, which seems like a small thing but it will provide us trust in the future.”
This work, 1-12 Inf. develops relationships through joint patrols and celebrating Afghan culture, by SSG Whitney Houston, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.