News: Afghan forces take ‘Pole position’ in Ghazni province
KABUL, Afghanistan – For the past few years engineers and explosive ordnance disposal experts from the U.S., Poland, and Afghanistan have taken on the unique and dangerous responsibility of clearing routes and roads through the provinces of eastern Afghanistan.
Each day these forces go out and search for - and find - improvised explosive devices emplaced by insurgents, seeking to indiscriminately kill International Security Assistance Force coalition service members or local Afghans and destabilize and terrorize the region.
With the Afghan government’s recent announcement of the third tranche in the transition process, the Polish Task Force White Eagle and the U.S. Army’s 54th Engineer Battalion 18th Engineer Brigade have moved the Afghan National Security Forces up front in the fight to protect their citizens.
“Our vision has been to put the [Afghan National Army] out there in front to lead, and we’ve been doing that more and more as they’ve proven their competence and willingness to protect their own,” said 1st Sgt. Richard Hinkle, the senior enlisted engineer for the 42nd Clearance Company, 54th Eng. Bn.
Together with the Polish Battle Group, TF White Eagle, Hinkle’s company of engineers has been training side by side with the ANSF, saving lives by finding and destroying IEDs.
There are two ways to find an IED – before it detonates, and after.
“It takes a special kind of soldier to raise their hand and go looking for IEDs,” said Hinkle.
IEDs are the number one killer of coalition service members and Afghan citizens.
“It is easy to count the numbers of lives lost from IEDs,” said ISAF Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel on a recent trip to Forward Operating Base Ghazni. “There is no way to quantify the lives you have saved.”
Capel, the ISAF and U.S. forces – Afghanistan senior enlisted leader, met with coalition soldiers and leaders, May 16, and was briefed on the progress of transition.
The situation in the Ghazni province is still very dangerous, explained Polish Battle Group Maj. Robert Kruz, a TF White Eagle operations officer, but the progress has been significant.
“We used to come into an area, secure it, and then wait for the ANSF to come in after us,” Kruz told Capel. “Now, they go in first and we follow.”
We continue to teach, and we are graduating classes of newly [EOD] trained non-commissioned officers and officers, said Kruz.
More than 100 ANSF non-commissioned officers will graduate as experts from their coalition training academy in May.
“We wouldn’t be putting these guys [ANSF] out front if they weren’t ready,” said Capt. William Murray, the commander of the 42nd Clearance Company. “They’ve proven themselves as leaders, planning missions, preparing their tactics, techniques and procedures, and executing missions.”
“They’ve worked hard by our side and have earned the right to take the lead here,” said Murray.
“You have it right here, by getting the ANSF out front to protect their own people,” he said. “You’ve worked hard and sacrificed much getting their forces prepared. You should be proud. I am proud of the work you’ve done here.”
Date Posted:05.17.2012 08:07
Location:GHAZNI PROVINCE, AF
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