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    Operation Andar Fury exerts Coalition presence



    Courtesy Story

    Combined Joint Task Force - 82 PAO

    Spc. Matthew Leary
    Task Force Fury PAO

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Afghanistan - Gusting winds and a dust storm blowing in from the east prevented the CH-47 Chinook helicopter from landing gracefully, its tail end swaying uneasily in the turbulent weather as it touched the ground seconds before the front end.

    From their position, less than a hundred meters (330 feet) away, the last two groups of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division darted across the open desert terrain, the perimeter security waiting until the last moment to withdraw and jump on the bird with the rest of their unit.

    For the Soldiers of Task Force Fury aboard the helicopter, their exit from the field was a welcome relief after nearly a week of dismounted patrols and operations, walking over 25 miles with upwards of 80 pounds of equipment, food and water on their backs.

    Task Force 2 Fury, along with Afghan National Army soldiers, conducted Operation Andar Fury, a large, complex, six-day operation inside the Ghazni province, April 28-May 3, bringing a dismounted, company-sized element into Ebrahim Khel, an area that has not previously had a large presence of coalition forces.

    "That was one of the main goals of the missions, to demonstrate coalition presence in the area," said Army 1st Lt. Ernest Orlando, executive officer for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Abn. Div., which lead the main effort of the mission.

    Company A, 2-508th PIR, ANA forces, and various other attached Soldiers also participated in the mission.

    The paratroopers began their mission late in the evening on April 28, dismounting from the safety of their armored humvees and walking 12.5 'clicks,' nearly 8 miles, to the outskirts of Ebrahim Khel. On their backs, the paratroopers carried all their combat supplies plus a two-day supply of food and water. From then on, the entire mission would be conducted without additional ground support. The only means of re-supply would be from aircraft dropping it from the sky.

    "It's the first time we've done a mission in that way," said Orlando about the decision to enter the town on foot and be re-supplied from the air. This allowed the unit to be mobile and rapid in their movements.

    "I think we went back to the basics," said Spc. Matthew Steffen, a M-249 squad automatic weapon gunner with Co. B. "Good old hardcore, light infantry tactics. No vehicles, just pursuing the enemy on foot. If we had gone in by vehicles [Taliban forces] would have heard us coming and been prepared."

    Over the proceedings days, the paratroopers would enter the villages in the area during the day, talking to the local Afghans and searching for Taliban presence. At night, the units would typically move one to two miles and set up in a different area.

    With many elements moving around in this manner, acting as separate units, the forces were able to establish a greater presence in the area.

    "It definitely shows that we're willing to show our presence and continue to move within an area," said Army 1st Lt. Brian Kitching, a platoon leader with Co. B. "The Taliban were not able to predict what we would do next. We wanted to clear the area of operations in order to disrupt Taliban [activity], and by our presence we flushed them out."

    Through the patrols with ANA, two AK-47 rifles, one rocket propelled grenade launcher, 3 anti-armor RPG's, two anti-personnel mines, and a medical cache were recovered.

    "I think it went extremely well," said Kitching. "And we're still processing all the information."

    By demonstrating a presence of coalition forces and ANA forces, the mission also allowed the leaders of both forces to meet with the local populous and establish a line of trust and cooperation.

    "The villagers were initially wary of us, but after spending 48 hours there they were very receptive," Orlando said.

    The acceptance of coalition forces by the villagers and the successful completion of the mission were both aided by the support of the ANA, Kithcing said.

    "The assets they bring to us are knowledge of the local populous and terrain," Kithcing said. "I enjoyed working with them. They have an extreme dedication to their country and are always working towards the betterment of Afghanistan."

    Seeing the villages, the paratroopers themselves gleaned a better appreciation for the overall mission in Afghanistan and the importance of it, said Steffen.

    "I talked to an old man who said the Taliban took his food and beat him," Steffen said about one trip into a village.

    "We were burning in the heat from all the gear and we were tired, but it was worth it," Steffen said.

    So as the Chinooks touched down, May 3, and the paratroopers jumped aboard, the relief of returning to base and refitting for future missions was coupled with the sense that they actually are making a difference in the lives of the average Afghan, Steffen said.

    "We are winning here, but it's not a war you can really measure though," he said. "We know it's important to help give Afghanistan back to its people for their future."



    Date Taken: 05.10.2007
    Date Posted: 05.10.2007 11:05
    Story ID: 10310
    Location: KIRKUK, IQ

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