News: Golf Forward Support Company partners with ANA on convoy
Story by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
HERAT, Afghanistan – The soldiers with Forward Support Company G, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, partnered with the Afghan National Army to complete a 20-day convoy, ending on Nov. 4.
The convoy consisted of over 80 vehicles driven by soldiers, ANA soldiers, local Afghans and Spanish soldiers.
As part of the transition in Regional Command West, small camps have been closing or transferring, and the equipment and vehicles needed to be transported to Camp Stone, said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hibbert, distribution platoon sergeant with FSC G.
For a mission of this magnitude, it took about three months of planning and coordinating.
“When we leave [Camp Stone], we are a self-sustaining element,” Hibbert said. “We provide our own security, maintenance, fuel and food. We are equipped with everything we need to sustain ourselves for the 20-day trip.”
A major consideration during the planning of the mission was the timing of the convoy.
“In the next couple of weeks, the route between Camp Stone and Qual-e-naw will be impassable due to weather conditions,” Hibbert said.
“We can only do this type of mission twice a year,” said Sgt. Thomas Pruski, recovery non-commissioned officer in charge with FSC G. “Because of the terrain, getting up and over the mountain is no easy task.”
“The terrain is very interesting. There is no road. It’s mountainous, and there is a lot of moon dust to navigate through,” Hibbert said. “One of the days, the actual trip was only seven miles but took 14 hours to get through because of the sand traps. Not all the vehicles can make it through unassisted.”
Although timing and planning were a big a part in the success of this mission, it could not have been accomplished without communication.
“This was my first time doing something like this, but we had really good communication, and that’s what got us through a lot of the more difficult situations,” said Cpl. Vangalina Money, truck commander with FSC G.
Communication was essential, but also physically getting out of the truck and walking in front to guide the truck through was very important, Pruski said.
Security was also a factor in this mission’s success.
“We had the ANA in the front and the back of the convoy,” Hibbert said. “They provided route clearance; also, when we got stopped, they would kick out dismounts and provide overwatch security for us.”
The partnering between the soldiers and ANA went beyond just security.
“One big thing was the amount of advising and mentoring we were able to do,” Hibbert said.
“They have something similar to our wrecker but never used it, so we taught them how to tow their own stuff,” Pruski said.
“We taught the ANA the whole process of towing,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Ashby, assistant convoy commander, FSC G. “We also showed them how to work on their vehicles when they have malfunctions, so they can keep the mission going.”
“We try to make the best of it, not just accomplishing the mission, but also building that rapport with the ANA,” Hibbert said. “So they can get a sense of what our culture is like, and we in turn get a sense of their culture too.”