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    Beast Company, 1-12 Inf., and ANA air assault into Mirugal Kalay

    Beast Company, 1-12 Inf., and ANA air assault into Mirugal Kalay

    Photo By 1st Sgt. Brock Jones | Yellow light from an artillery illumination round lights the area as Sgt. Nicholas...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Brock Jones 

    ISAF Regional Command South

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – None of the Soldiers kneeling in the concrete-hard field needed their night vision devices to tell them the helicopters were coming: the distinctive whomp-whomp-whomp of the twin-rotored Chinooks rolled down and across the baked farmland signaling their approach.

    As the helicopters descended into micro storms of dust and pelting stones, the waiting U.S. and Afghan National Army Soldiers leaned into the onslaught of dirt. Once confirmed the helicopters had touched down, the Soldiers stood, each grabbing onto the man in front of him, and quickly made their way to the rear of the birds and up the ramp. With everyone aboard and accounted for, the two Chinooks lifted into cleaner air and headed back to Kandahar Airfield, bringing to an end the partnered air assault mission.

    During a time of closure and transition marking many lasts and ends for coalition forces in Afghanistan, Soldiers of Beast Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Inf. Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Division, seized the opportunity for a first on October 23, 2014, conducting their first air assault mission with Afghan soldiers to the town of Mirugal Kalay, south of KAF.

    “The ANA soldiers that went with us have conducted hot load training with another platoon in the company, but this was the first air assault mission the ANA actually conducted with us,” said 2nd Lt. Jonathan Goodin, of Bucksport, Maine, who serves as platoon leader for 2nd Plt., Beast Co.

    “Hot load” training refers to practicing getting onto and off of a “hot” helicopter safely, one with engines running and rotors spinning. A day before the actual air assault mission, the Soldiers of Beast Co. took about a dozen ANA soldiers through dry runs of the loading and unloading process during daylight hours, and then ran through the same process in the dark with “hot” Chinooks.

    “The importance of this training is to make sure that we’re all on the same page,” said Staff Sgt. Randy Day, a squad leader with Beast Co., from Rogers, Arkansas. “We spend time doing the rehearsals…so when we actually do the mission, they are able to follow us as practiced.”

    Especially given the language barrier between the U.S. and ANA Soldiers, practice time before partnered missions such as this air assault is key to success.

    “They know the basics,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Brown, weapons squad leader with Beast Co., from Deer Lodge, Montana, during the pre-mission training. “It’s not the first time they’ve worked with the U.S. or other ISAF Soldiers so…they’re eager to learn. When we’re out here teaching them something, they want to learn it.”

    Goodin said the ANA quickly picked up what the squad and team leaders were teaching them, and said he was pleased by how attentive the Afghan soldiers were both during the training and the mission itself.

    “Rehearsals were key to the mission, just as they are with any mission,” said Goodin. “I would especially emphasize this with the ANA. It doesn't take long for them to catch on.”

    The next day, with hours of practice behind them, the U.S. and Afghan Soldiers met on a helicopter-landing pad on Camp Hero, an ANA base adjacent to KAF, for pickup and the flight to the outskirts of Mirugal Kalay. Upon touchdown just outside the town, the Soldiers hustled down the open ramp into the ring of dust and after a brief shower of dirt and stones, the birds were gone and the short walk to the town began. After halting to link up with Afghan Uniformed Policemen stationed nearby, the partnered U.S.-ANA-AUP patrol continued into the town of hardened mud and adobe buildings.

    A noisy and colorful crowd of children met the Soldiers in the farm fields surrounding Mirugal Kalay and skirted the patrol as Soldiers walked down the main dirt road through town. After making contact with the town’s malik, the local leader, the patrol halted for a short discussion about security in the area.

    By the time the meeting was over, darkness had fallen. Having finished the business at hand, the local policemen were thanked for their help and the patrol continued. With the aid of night observation devices, Soldiers navigated into the darkness of the surrounding fields, finally taking up a security position some distance outside the town. The final piece of the patrol was to call in two artillery illumination rounds from 155mm howitzers on KAF.

    “The mission went very well. The ANA were well disciplined and integrated into the scheme of maneuver with the help of hours of rehearsals the day prior,” said Goodin. “That was the main focus of the patrol.” The illumination rounds, the key leader engagement with the village malik, and being able to partner with the AUP commander were an added bonus, he said.

    Goodin credits the success of both the training and the mission to the Soldiers and NCOs of his platoon.

    “My soldiers in the platoon did an excellent job at instructing the ANA on the scheme of maneuver,” he said. “They were the ones that really made this mission a success.”

    With the artillery rounds called for and observed, the U.S. and Afghan Soldiers set their security formations and awaited pickup. The sound of the helicopters in the distance was reminder for all to prepare for the micro dust storm that would soon be upon them, signaling the end of another first and completion of one more in a long string of missions for Beast Company.



    Date Taken: 10.23.2014
    Date Posted: 10.27.2014 13:01
    Story ID: 146162
    Hometown: BUCKSPORT, ME, US
    Hometown: DEER LODGE, MT, US
    Hometown: ROGERS, AR, US
    Hometown: WINSLOW, ME, US

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