News: Afghans land new capabilities in Logar province
Story by Sgt. Bob Yarbrough
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Army completed construction of the first helicopter landing zone, or HLZ, on Camp Maiwand in Logar province, Sept. 16.
HLZ Hanif was named after Afghan National Army Maj. Hanif, the 4th Infantry Brigade, 203rd Corps Brigade Aviation Officer, who had a large role in the preparation of the site.
U.S. Army Capt. Jeremy Dillard, a native of Kansas City, Kan., and an adviser with the 36th Engineer Brigade Security Forces Advise and Assist Team, attached to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, saw the project through from conception to the first helicopter landing, Sept. 16.
The ANA wasted no time after an old living area, filled with trash and shipping containers, was designated for the HLZ.
“Now the HLZ is completely clear. No debris, no trash,” Dillard said “It’s all gone and it’s ready to go.”
“This is their LZ,” Dillard added. “This is a big win for the Afghan National Army.”
U.S. Army Sgt. Austin Ballard, a geospatial engineer with 4th IBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, and a native of Philadelphia, Miss., assisted with the mapping and analysis of the terrain for its suitability to be a helicopter landing zone.
“It’s important for them to have an HLZ so they can continue their mission on their own in the future, after we’ve left here,” he said.
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kelvin Miller, the 4th IBCT aviation safety officer, and a native of Los Angeles, Calif., gave the ANA aviation element guidance on several areas, but said the Afghans did most of the work themselves.
“The whole idea was to train the ANA on what it takes to establish an HLZ, as well as all the procedural and safety [requirements],” said Miller.
HLZ Hanif has the potential to significantly enhance Camp Maiwand’s sustainability.
Until now, when personnel, supplies, and ammunition were flown in for the ANA soldiers stationed at Maiwand, U.S. soldiers would escort the Afghan soldiers to the U.S. flight line, then back to Maiwand after the material was offloaded.
“They’re sustaining themselves instead of us being involved, and they are showing that they can take care of themselves,” said Miller.
On the first day, three helicopters landed with personnel to attend an ANA commander’s conference. The first two arrivals were U.S. Army Maj. Jack Samples, an adviser with the 162nd Infantry Brigade, and his ANA counterpart, Lt. Col. Abdul Hakim, the 7th Kandak, 4th Brigade, for the 203rd Corps, commander.
Afghan National Security Forces are consistently taking on more and more responsibility for the security of their country, defending their own people from the enemies of Afghanistan. The Afghan’s lead in the planning and construction of HLZ Hanif is a shining example of the increased readiness and sustainability of the Afghan National Army.