ZABUL PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Afghan National Army soldiers of the 3/205th partner with the 22nd Engineer Clearance Company, 223rd Engineer Battalion, at Forward Operating Base Pasab in hopes of one day taking the lead on route clearance patrols March 13.
Working closely together the last seven months, the two companies are ensuring the ANA will acquire the knowledge needed to conduct route clearance patrols independent of U.S. and coalition forces.
With Afghanistan beginning independent route clearance operations, it is vital that the ANA engineers have the capability of leading their missions. It is hoped that with the presence of Afghan forces, the Taliban will be deterred from targeting other Afghans.
U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Lao, the commander of the 22nd ECC, has overseen the progress of the ANA 3/205th since they began the partnership in July 2011. He firmly believes that the ANA’s 3/205th unit is ready to take the lead.
“They know the culture and the land,” said Lao. “We’ve been fighting this way for 10 years, but they’ve lived in this country that has been fighting for hundreds of years. Where they lack in logistics, they make up in creativity.”
ANA 3/205th’s solider Staff Sgt. Abdul Quadm agrees with Lao’s assessment. “I think we are ready. They [22nd ECC] have been very good to us, training us and teaching us.”
“Getting their leadership to make them show up at first was hard” said U.S. Army Sgt. Douglas Grewell of Newcomerstown, Ohio, the partnership liaison. “We had to focus our efforts on the NCOs [non-commissioned officers] and make sure they knew how to be a leader.”
The 22nd ECC commander decided that the training for the ANA would be most beneficial if it were moved from the ANA’s compound to the 22nd ECC’s area.
“When we made the move [from their compound to ours], they really started showing up more and on time and were more focused on the training,” said Grewell. “The biggest improvement I’ve seen is their maintenance capability.”
“I like working with them [22nd ECC]. If we have any problems, they help us to fix it,” Quadm said. “Things are going good. We work well together shoulder to shoulder.”
Quadm also thinks the missions are going well with the 22nd ECC. Although the ANA unit can only provide a limited number of vehicles in the convoy, they are actively participating and trying to learn to take the lead.
“The job we do is so technology intensive and resource intensive, that I don’t know if they’ll be able to sustain,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Tyler DiMona, company intelligence support team of Johnson City, Tenn. “We are thinking of a more dismounted role for these guys. These guys find almost all of the IEDs [improvised explosive devise]. They find more IEDs dismounted than the coalition forces. They know the land; they know the language. We are going back to the drawing board to better help them succeed.”
While overall the partnerships are progressing and going well, the ANA still need the support of the U.S. Army engineers to proficiently gain the reins for route clearance. They are making the necessary steps in order to take the lead by the time the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan, however for now, they will continue to work “shoulder to shoulder.”
||ZABUL PROVINCE, AF
||ZABUL PROVINCE, AF
||JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA, US
||WEST POINT, MS, US
This work, ANA engineers and 22nd ECC work shoulder to, by CPT Jessica Jackson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.