News: Operation Pan Kalay in Panjwa'i
Story by Staff Sgt. Nazly Confesor
PAN KALAY, Afghanistan - As improvised explosive devices remain the weapon of choice for insurgents, U.S. forces and the Afghan National Army continue to fight against the threat of IEDs, caches and home-made explosive compounds.
In the Panjwa’i district of southern Kandahar province, Afghanistan, soldiers from C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, are doing their part in providing security as the ANA along with the Afghan explosive ordnance disposal team lead the way in planning, organizing and executing IED clearance operations.
Recently, the ANA 1st Brigade, 205th Hero Corps, successfully took the lead in searching the village of Pan Kalay to disrupt future insurgent attacks and activities.
Operation Creature Pan Kalay was one of the many operations marking the beginning of a transition phase where Afghan National Security Forces are taking the lead in independent operations.
As U.S. forces plan to drawdown in 2014, ANSF worked to bring stability and security to the region.
“A few months ago, U.S. forces planned and executed missions, while the ANA supported us,” said U.S. Army Capt. Jeremiah Sasala, platoon leader assigned to C Company, 3-21 Infantry. "Now, the ANA is coordinating its own missions. We provide security and support.”
Sasala’s platoon along with 1-5 Infantry and airmen from the U.S. Air Force 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron explosive ordnance disposal team provided support, resources and guidance during the three-day operation.
On the second day of the operation, the ANA EOD technicians along with Air Force EOD technicians started the mission first as their counterparts and U.S. forces provided security.
During the clearing, they found 75 pounds of homemade explosives before striking an IED at the gate of a homemade explosive facility. The explosion injured three ANA EOD technicians and one U.S. Air Force EOD technician.
The ANA provided security as U.S. forces provided medical treatment to the wounded. Meanwhile, Air Force EOD technicians eliminated the remaining IEDs by controlled detonation.
U.S. Army Pfc. Zachary H. Bolin, a combat medic with 3-21 Infantry, said he has seen a shift in attitudes with their ANA counterparts in the past few weeks.
“The ANA has become more confident ever since they started operating on their own,” he said.
The mission resulted in the confiscation of 400 pounds of homemade explosive and IED-making material, 1,150 pounds of marijuana seeds, numerous caches and 11, 560 pounds of hashish.
Overall, Operation Creature Pan Kalay was successful in removing dangerous IEDs from the battlefield and delivered a blow to the insurgent financing from hashish and marijuana seeds to fund their insurgency.
As the ANA continues to show presence in the Panjwa’i area, the citizens of Afghanistan can see and gain trust from them, minimizing the threat from insurgents.