Images: Special delivery [Image 7 of 28]
Photo by Staff Sgt. Charles Crail
Sgt. Kevin Bates, from California, the mortar section leader for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, leads his section off the back ramp of a CH-47 Chinook driving a modified Gator after inserting on the side of a mountain. The Gator, loaded with machine guns, ammunition and a 81mm mortar system served as mobile gun platform during Operation Sword in eastern Paktika province, Afghanistan. Afghan National Security Forces and soldiers of TF Black Lions, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, air assaulted under the cover of darkness into the rugged mountain ranges ringing the Charbaran Valley in order to disrupt insurgent activity in the area and prevent planning for spectacular attacks elsewhere in the country. The air assault was the largest ever conducted by the 172nd Infantry Brigade, involving two battalion-sized task forces.