News: Charlie Company clears path to security
Story by Sgt. Harold McGill
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Soldiers from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division braved both extremely warm and cold temperatures, sandstorms, and bitter winds March 18-20 to help begin a road building project in Kandahar province.
“We are trying to use this road to connect the northern and southern portion of our area of operations,” said 1st Lt. Thomas “Mac” Brinker, of Katy, Texas, the platoon leader, 1st Platoon, Charlie Company. “The hope is that it will help local forces better provide security.”
Soldiers working on the project sited other goals for the mission as well.
“If it helps U.S. forces get from one place to another on a secured route it makes me feel good because I know a lot of my brothers will come home safe and it could help guys in my company make it home from their deployment,” said Spc. Grant M. Allen, a member of 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, of Highland Calif.
First Lt. Brinker was responsible for ensuring the proper cutting of the road and the supervision of all the different elements involved in the mission. This meant he had to coordinate an engineering team, Civil Affairs, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, Psychological Operations and a dog team to make sure that all participants were on the same page throughout the mission.
“I would have to say the most difficult part, for me, was managing so many different assets and making all parties content,” said Brinker.
In addition to the extreme changes in weather and the management of so many different moving parts, Brinker said the mission presented numerous challenges.
Handling local questions and discontent during the mission was an important part of his job. Many of the locals seemed happy that the road was being cleared. Some were confused as to what was going on but seemed to put at ease by the explanations provided by Brinker and his interpreter.
Soldier fatigue also was a factor as paratroopers from Charlie Company switched from pulling security to helping with the actual building of the road.
While the mission was difficult, Allen said that he feels it could result in even more benefits than just its main intention of completing a road.
He said he feels it makes a big difference for the U.S. troops to be out working among the local population. He believes that it will impact their view of the Americans.
“They will push Taliban out and it will help us win the hearts and minds of civilians,” Allen said.
Locals had more than enough opportunity to see the American and Afghan forces out on the road. After more than 60 straight hours in the field, the first phase of the road was complete.
The importance of what the road could mean for security was something that Brinker reiterated.
“This road is meant to provide the ANSF an avenue through the town of Mirwalian, a historically bad area. If it is easier to access, the hope is that it, as well as surrounding areas, may be able to be made more secure,” said Brinker.