News: Strike provides logistics and security for Afghan election ballot movement
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The ballot boxes came from Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar and other regional provinces, collected and moved out with speed to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment “Talon” and 526th Brigade Support Battalion “Performance," 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, assisted in the movement and security of the Afghan election ballots in support of the countries ballot audit.
According to an article published in the New York Times, the audit of almost eight million ballots cast in the June 14 runoff was part of a deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry to ease a dispute between the two remaining candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, that had threatened the stability of Afghanistan’s government only months before the NATO-led combat mission here is to formally end.
The results from the audit will determine who will be Afghanistan’s new president.
“Each ballot box was inspected by IEC officials, a representative from each presidential candidate and coalition forces for damage and broken seals. Any ballot box that was missing seals or had damage, was logged by serial number by every party involved,” said U.S. Army Capt. Nathan Purswell, plans officer with HHC, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry, Regiment, 2BCT. “The ballots were secured by both coalition forces and Afghan National Security Forces. IEC officials, a representative from each presidential candidate and coalition forces were present with the ballot boxes at all times.”
“Having a successful election shows the Afghan people that their government is legitimate and capable of running this country,” said U.S. Army Capt. Zak Pantaleo, governance and development officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry, Regiment, 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Division. “The mission is not over yet, our military’s men and women are still working extremely hard here.”
Pantaleo added, “Talon’s role in the ballot audit was to secure all ballots from two Independent Election Commission warehouses in Nangarhar. One of the warehouses had 145 ballot boxes from Nuristan and the other had 1253 ballot boxes from Nangarhar. Once complete, select officers and guardian angels were responsible for observing the palletizing of ballot boxes and escorting them to Kabul International Airport.”
Talon provided security; Performance provided logistics.
First Sgt. Jarrod Gozy, the senior enlisted adviser with Company A, 526th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, said, “A Co 526 BSB [ATLAS] was responsible for setting up the staging, integration and onward movement of the ballots. We also ensured that the ballots were safely packaged correctly for transport.”
He added, “Our Soldiers remained flexible during the process and worked closely with our Afghan counterparts to ensure that the ballot boxes were properly counted for, and secured for shipment on both 463l Air Force pallets and plywood skids.”
U.S. Army Maj. Joshua Southworth, the executive officer with 526th BSB, 2BCT, said, “Prior to the reception of the ballots the distribution company, A/526, began preparations to receive election material. The area selected was fenced off and served as an optimal place to receive, download, store and call forward ballots.”
He added, “Ballots were moved to a secure area where they were downloaded by election workers and reloaded for efficient travel to Kabul.”
This work, Strike provides logistics and security for Afghan election ballot movement, by SGT David Cox, CPT David Dunn, SPC Jack Fitzpatrick, A1C Jeremiah Murrell, 2LT Andrew Price, SGT Ryan Sharp and SPC Justin Shields, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.