News: Talon helps secure northern edge of Khakrez
Story by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
KHAKREZ, Afghanistan – Soldiers with 3rd Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division have moved from the inner city of Kandahar to the isolated mountain side camp, Village Stability Platform Lam.
“Our mission out here is to support the (Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha) team in conducting operations in northern Khakrez and Ghorak districts,” said 1st Lt. Eric Richards, the platoon leader. “Basically, we take care of VSP Lam by doing base security and when operations are conducted by the ODA we reinforce them by providing soldiers as extra riflemen on a mission.”
The Special Forces team incorporates the platoon into each mission and has been making headway in eliminating the insurgent threat within the area.
“There is actual Taliban held territory that we go into and we are pushing them out of that,” Richards said.
“The main pass that we guard is one that is used to run drugs, money and guns,” said Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Miller, a squad leader. “They’ve gotten more aggressive because we are stopping the support for the Taliban in our area. They’re getting cut off because of the actions we’ve taken out here.”
“It is just really satisfying when we go there and find caches and (hurt) the enemy,” Richards said.
Besides working with the Special Forces team, the platoon also works shoulder-to-shoulder with the Afghan National Army.
“(The ANA) platoon has really been able to integrate in with my platoon because we are organized basically the same way,” Richards said. “Those guys are motivated and love going out so there are no issues.”
“We use the buddy system every time we go out and that instills confidence in them,” Miller said. “We want people to see that their military force is standing up.”
“These guys here really know what they’re doing,” said Spc. Cesar Marmalejo, an infantryman in the 3rd Platoon. “They know what to do, for example, if a local comes to the gate, they know they have to search him and they automatically just do it.”
The soldiers want the local people to feel like they can come to them if there is any suspicious activity.
“We don’t have a huge defensive posture here so that it is less alarming to the people,” Miller said. “Believe it or not, with less of a show of force, it’s more inviting to the people.”
Miller added, “As far as the locals, they will come in when they have information because they don’t want their kids to get hurt or anything to happen to their area; it’s been pretty productive.”
VSP Lam has beautiful scenery but has little in the way of comfort.
“We don’t have bathrooms and you can’t take showers everyday but the stuff we get to do out here is awesome,” Richards said. “I know people must think living out remote like this must be terrible but I think it couldn’t be further from the truth.”