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    Bravo Troop traverses mountains to help keep the peace

    Bravo Troop Traverses Mountains to Help Keep the Peace

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Aird | Soldiers from Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), patrol...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Brandon Aird 

    173rd Airborne Brigade

    By Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Aird
    173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

    NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – "We got a guy with an AK-47 400 meters from your position," crackled over the patrol leader's radio.

    Chief Warrant Officer Byung Kim, a Marine from Alexander, Virginia shouted for everyone to "Get down."

    Kim was leading a group of 20 Afghan national army soldiers up a mountain to Combat Outpost Warheit in Nuristan province, Afghanistan, when the report came over his radio March 2. Kim and the Afghan national army works with Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) to help spread Islamic Republic of Afghanistan influence in a remote part of Afghanistan.

    Before Kim's patrol left Forward Operating Base Keating, the forward operating base was placed on high alert after a Taliban radio communication was intercepted. Extra vehicles were set around the perimeter with 50 Cal. machine guns and Mark 19 grenade launchers locked and loaded.

    Two days earlier near the same location a large scale fire fight broke out between a patrol from Bravo Troop and Taliban extremists.

    Kim continued the mission after the radio report – a squad from Bravo Troop was in an over-watch position covering the patrols movement. The individual spotted with an AK-47 disappeared back into the mountain side.

    Kim and the 20 ANA Soldiers walked three and half hours up the mountain to check on ANA soldiers living at COP Warheit. The patrol reached COP Warheit safely by lunch and left shortly after.

    "I just wanted to go up and see how my ANA Soldiers were doing," explained Kim.

    Combat Outpost Warheit is nestled near the top of a mountain. The muddy-slushy trails leading in and out of Warheit are worn into the snow-covered hillside by patrolling Soldiers. When Kim and the rest of the patrol left FOB Keating the temperature was in the low 70's. By the time the patrol got near the top of the mountain the patrol was struggling through snow drifts three feet deep.

    The surrounding mountains dominating COP Warheit's landscape are covered in snow. Large tree covered valleys, rivers and towns dot the landscape below. The outpost is so remote supplies can only be delivered by helicopter. The other option of hand carrying supplies from valley floor from FOB Keating isn't feasible.

    Bravo Troop manages both FOB Keating and COP Warheit. The Soldiers work side by side with their ANA counterparts.

    "We fight together. We patrol together. We live together," said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Burns, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon.

    Bravo Troop even shares showers with ANA Soldiers at FOB Keating because of the limited facilities in the remote area.

    "The hardest part of being up here is not being able to shower," explained Burns, who's last shower was 29 days ago. 1st Platoon has been operating out of COP Warheit. The outpost's only running water is the melting snow line.

    "We have Spartan living up here," said Burns. "I think my soldiers and myself like it a little bit better because it's away from the flagpole. Not that we relax more but that we have a tendency to govern ourselves a little bit different."

    A platoon from Bravo Troop rotates monthly to COP Warheit along with a platoon of ANA Soldiers. The Soldiers help provide over watch security for FOB Keating and patrols in the valley below.

    "Probably the most important thing we also do is provide a link to the local population with coalition forces," explained Burns, from Indiana.

    Bravo Company and the ANA are helping keep the peace between the villages of Nagar, Papristan, Jimjuz, Binuz, upper and lower Kamidesh.
    The villages have been fighting amongst each other long before coalition forces entered the area.

    "You see that village over there," pointed Burns. "The buildings were destroyed and the farms were mined by the other villages. The Kushto tribe used to live in those homes. The only thing left standing is that mosque. They now live over behind the next ridge."

    1st Platoon and ANA met with the local village elders to help promote local development and build working relationships amongst the villages and coalition forces. ANA Soldiers also hand out humanitarian aid supplies to help the local villagers during the winter season.

    "The village elders tend to support us," explained Burns, "but their sons want to declare jihad against us. The village elders say 'You can't declare jihad because they (coalition forces) haven't broken any Islamic laws."

    The fighting amongst the villages, and also foreign fighters who enter the area to attack coalition forces, has slowed down during the winter months.

    "They're fair weather warriors in a manner of speaking," said Burns. "They're not going to go out in the bad weather. The snow limits their movement. So they're going to hunker down for the winter for the most part."

    The receding snow line around COP Warheit marks the approaching spring and the beginning of a new fighting season.

    "They'll (foreign fighters) regroup, resupply and when spring comes they'll come back with fresh fighters," explained Burns. "We'll be ready for them."

    1st Platoon only had one day at COP Warheit left before they were flown to FOB Keating. Soldiers from Bravo Troop have endured one fighting season in Afghanistan this deployment, and have one more to go before they can head home.

    "In the ten months we've been here we improved the outpost and our relationships with the locals, explained Burns. "The progress takes a lot of hard work, but we're getting there.



    Date Taken: 03.31.2008
    Date Posted: 03.31.2008 11:21
    Story ID: 17925

    Web Views: 1,019
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