News: Soldiers work hard to improve infrastructure, relations
Story by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
QADIS, Afghanistan – Seeing the trashed, abandoned Afghan police headquarters building, soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, saw it as an opportunity to build better relations with the Afghan Uniformed Police and the people of Qadis.
“We started with a building, an unfinished building,” said Capt. John Heideareich, commander of HHB. “The AUP refused to move in because it was unfinished; it had no power, no electricity.”
The platoon hired contractors to rewire the building so they could hook up their generator. They also established a landing zone to receive supplies and built up the force protection by building an outer perimeter to the compound.
“When we first got here, it was real dirty and almost unlivable, but we worked really hard to make it livable and make it better so when we leave, the AUP can take it over,” said Capt. Mike Hanna, battle captain with HHB.
“We had to clean up and get supplies out here,” said Staff Sgt. Shaheem Daily, a platoon sergeant with HHB. “Our biggest concerns at first were force protection and getting the [landing zone] operational.”
“We got the building where we need it with power and water, and now we are establishing an [Operation Control Center-District], which is assisting and advising the AUP here,” Heideareich said.
The platoon established a structure where the AUP and local government officials can come and have weekly coordination meetings, Heideareich said.
The platoon also mentors the AUP.
“We do force [protection] with them,” Daily said. “It’s just little steps, but they are learning. We do a lot of hands-on training with them. We do whatever we can to help them out, so they can see we are here for them.”
“We’ve just been showing them how to set up security when they're out at places and how to properly search people when they come to the gate,” Hanna said. “Just helping them with the basics of what we do.”
When the soldiers first arrived, the community was not very receptive.
“The [girls] stopped going to school because they had to walk in front of our location, and they were afraid,” Hanna said.
One of the ways the soldiers are proving to the community that they are here to help is by contracting locals to restore the local mosque, Heideareich said.
Hanna said now the girls go to school and are not afraid to walk in front of the compound.
“Americans are human lovers. We know they are here to help us,” said Capt. Abduhal Qadus Kadri, the commander of the jail which is located within the compound.
“The ultimate goal is to transition the OCC-D to the AUP,” Heideareich said. “They should go forward and do great things.”