News: TF Pacemaker Soldiers provide humanitarian assistance to Afghans in Kushamond Market District
By Army Sgt. David E. Roscoe
Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KUSHAMOND, Afghanistan - Soldiers of Alpha Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), from Ft. Lewis, Wash., provided humanitarian assistance to Afghans in the villages surrounding Forward Operating Base Kushamond to help improve relationships.
Kushamond has proved to be a hot spot for insurgent and Taliban activity. With constant attacks and ambushes on coalition forces during convoy movements and patrols, it is imperative that a friendly alliance is formed with the residents of the surrounding villages near FOB Kushamond to ensure a safe working environment for Task Force Pacemaker Soldiers and coalition forces operating in the immediate area.
The humanitarian-assistance mission not only helped strengthen the bond between the local populace and coalition forces, but also allowed the TF Pacemaker Soldiers to build cohesion with the Polish Battle Group and the Afghan national police who assisted Pacemaker Soldiers with distribution and security for the humanitarian-assistance mission.
Army 2nd Lt. Pranish D. Sharma, A Co., 864th ECB, from Sacramento, Calif., who headed the humanitarian-assistance mission for A Co., stated, "The Soldiers from Team Animal were able to put a smile on the face of the children as each child that came through received a toy, new pair of shoes sized to fit their feet, a sweater and a blanket. Many of the children that arrived at the humanitarian-assistance distribution site were barefoot with little clothing. The Soldiers were more than willing to put in the work needed to set up the humanitarian-assistance mission knowing what impact it would have on the local population. The Soldiers had to hand-load all of the supplies on to the back of trailers the day prior to the mission. Prior to downloading the supplies, A Co. Soldiers, along with other coalition forces, secured the area of distribution and set up over 50 strands of concertina wire spanning 400 meters."
Forming a peaceful and trusting relationship with the near-by residents of FOB Kushamond, which numbers approximately 450 Afghans, could provide TF Pacemaker and coalition forces with warnings of Taliban and insurgent activities in the area. With this intelligence, troop safety and welfare will be achieved with greater success allowing for the highest level of mission accomplishment for the task force and coalition.
The Kushamond sub-governor and chief of police presided over the distribution and the humanitarian-assistance effort, passing out gifts and supplies to the people in the village. Some of the items distributed included; winter supplies, recreational equipment and food.
Some of the positive enduring effects of the humanitarian-assistance effort is the people of the Kushamond Market District were recognized for their support of coalition operations, gave validity to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan leadership who supported the event, a positive opinion of the coalition efforts in the area was reinforced and needed winter supplies and food were provided for the locals.
Army 1st Lt. Michael J. Kaiser, the Earth Moving Platoon Leader for A Co., 864th ECB, from Parksville, N.Y., stated, "The humanitarian assistance-mission provided necessary supplies to over 75 families so that they could be prepared for the harsh upcoming winter weather in Paktika province of Afghanistan. The total count of family representatives that showed up were over 250 [Afghans]. Team Animal was able to promote Afghan First as we delivered the humanitarian-assistance supplies to the sub-governor and police chief to pass out to the local populace. Overall, I believe the humanitarian-assistance mission will be a success as it allowed coalition forces to show the local Afghan populace that we are truly here to help."