News: Afghan engineers build check points, step toward independence
Story by Lance Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
PATROL BASE WASHIR, Afghanistan - The road to Washir is dusty and dirty, with potholes and hills making it an obstacle course. The ride almost feels like off-roading, with vehicles hitting bumps and twisting around turns.
With no sign of houses, the approaching check points stick out of the barren landscape, with Afghan National Army soldiers keeping watch over the area.
Last Wednesday, ANA Col. Abdul Hai Neshat, executive officer, 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, stopped at several check points with Capt. Charles Arvisais, executive officer, 2nd Brigade Advisor Team, Regimental Combat Team 6, to inspect the construction of check points and address the ANA soldiers.
“(The ANA engineers) went out recently and built check points for 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Whalen, engineer advisor, Embedded Training Team, RCT-6. “They were built so they can reinforce the route.”
The ANA soldiers stay at the check points, making the construction vital to their safety.
“Each (check point) serves for the security of the soldiers,” said Neshat. “They need to make sure the soldiers are safe.”
ANA engineers planned, built and maintain the check points while coalition forces provided materials for the engineers.
Arvisais said the ANA impressed him, with the strong foundation and tactical placement of the different checkpoints.
“I felt like the position was very good,” said Arvisais. “They had good visibility to provide security in the area, and the check points were constructed solidly enough that it gave the soldiers protection.”
Neshat agreed with Arvisais adding how proud he is of the engineering tolai.
The ANA engineers’ work ethic also impressed their Marine advisors, developing more independence for the Afghan National Security Forces.
“They do what they need to do to get the job done,” said Whalen. “It cuts back on having to push the coalition forces out to build these check points.”
Whalen, a native of Minot, N.D., added that the ANA engineers sometimes begin construction and repairs on projects on their own.
“They’ll push out and do this stuff without us having to pass it down on them,” said Whalen. “With them being more and more independent, it’s allowing them to get out there and start showing the coalition forces that they are coming along, and they know what they are doing.”
In addition to the check points, Whalen said the engineers also built a temporary ammo storage facility on Forward Operating Base Delaram II and reinforced the entrance. More projects are in the works.
“The engineer tolai has been a shining star for 2nd Brigade since we got here,” said Arvisais. “They are incredibly capable. They are able to do all of the projects that the Marines would be able to do, and they are an extremely proficient ANA unit.”
Editor’s note: Forward Operating Base Delaram II currently houses Regimental Combat Team 6 in 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.