News: Traffic stops boost security on key route
Story by Spc. Matthew Thompson
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Along a stretch of paved highway near forward operating base Altimur, traffic begins to stack up as Soldiers with 1st Platoon B Company, 1st Brigade, 32nd Infantry and members of the Afghan national police signaled motorists to the muddy shoulder, March 3.
This stretch of road is the primary route for motorists traveling north and south through Afghanistan, which makes it a perfect place for 1st Platoon to set up a vehicle check point.
"We deny movement of the enemy," said Army Pvt. Justin Hewett, a squad automatic weapon gunner with 3rd squad. "Anything we can stop, we stop. Or else, we might see it later."
One-by-one, Soldiers and members of the ANP direct the cars to turn off the road. Approximately fifty feet from the highway, Army Sgt. Christopher Drake, 3rd squad leader, and Hewett motion for each vehicle to move toward them as they hit the dirt path. Once the vehicle is a safe distance from the road, they instruct each driver to stop, turn off the engine, and raise the hood. The interpreter for 3rd squad instructs the passengers to get out of the vehicle and move to the side.
This provides an opportunity for Army Sgt. Dillon Ludwick to question the local nationals and check their identification. While Ludwick questions them, the ANP officers proceed to search the vehicle from front to rear. While this group can't stop everyone, they are looking for individuals who fit the profile of possible insurgents.
"We prevent the enemy moving from point A to point B with the contraband that's needed to attack Alliance forces," said Drake.
As the ANP walks around the vehicle, Hewett is also looking for anything out of the ordinary.
"We look for everything," said Hewett while peering under the hood of a car. "Triggers, explosives, weapons. Anything that can be used against us."
During the inspections, Drake directs his Soldiers and the ANP as they search the vehicle.
"Normally there is one of each element at each party," Hewett said as he watched a member of the ANP open bags in the back of the trunk. "Our guys secure them and the ANP checks the vehicle."
The main mission during a traffic control point is to deny the enemy freedom of movement and prevent any contraband items from reaching their destination.
"We could search three or four vehicles and find nothing, but the last vehicle could be the one," Drake said. "If we find that vehicle, we've done our job for the day."