KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — During a trip to Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Forward Operating Base Ramrod, the only battalion-sized U.S. unit operating in the Kandahar province, approximately 80 miles west of Kandahar City.
Secretary Gates spent about an hour at the FOB, during which he awarded six medals to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers.
"Having [Secretary Gates] award these medals means a lot," said Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Roszko, Charlie Company squad leader, from Bronx, New York, who earned a Bronze Star with V-device for actions taken during an improvised explosive device attack. "It shows someone knows what we are doing out here. Our achievement is appreciated more than we realized."
After awarding the medals, Secretary Gates took a moment to talk to the Soldiers and Airmen. He started by thanking them for their service as the only U.S. military unit that falls under a Canadian command.
"Thank you for what you have done to help the Canadians, I know they have taken a lot of hits. Your being down here has been very important to them," he said. "I want to thank you above all for volunteering to serve our country and volunteering to serve here. You are clearly making a huge difference," he added.
He also assured Soldiers he was working hard for their safety.
"I just want you to know that I feel personally responsible for each and every one of you. I have been doing what I can to get you what you need to be successful in your mission and for you to come home safe," said Gates, as he noted the number of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles on the base.
His work to speed the appropriation process for much needed MRAPs was mentioned by Army Lt. Col. Daniel Hurlbut, 2-2 Inf., commander from Killeen, Texas.
"Though [Secretary Gates] was only able to stay for a short time, it was a good opportunity to talk with him," Hurlbut said. "I used the opportunity to thank him for his help with procuring the MRAPs we use every day. His efforts have saved countless Soldiers' lives."
Before leaving, Secretary Gates took time to personally thank and present each of the 253 Soldiers and Airmen with a coin.
The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division assists NATO in providing a permanent presence in southern Afghanistan. In their year in Kandahar province, they have reduced Taliban movement of supplies through the area, decreased IEDs on the major highway and built rapport with the local Afghanistan population through constant interaction.
|Date Posted:||05.08.2009 02:33|
This work, Secretary of Defense visits first American Forward Operating Base in Kandahar Province, by SMSgt Jill LaVoie, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.