KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army (ANA) unit partnered with the 1433rd Engineer Company is now validated to conduct full independent route clearance operations as part of their normal duties to keep the roads safe in Afghanistan.
The 120th Engineer Battalion and its 1433rd Engineers met Feb. 19 to congratulate the Route Clearance Company (RCC) of the ANA’s 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps, on their successful validation of mission essential tasks.
“The common core tasks that the ANA were tested on are essential tasks that need to be mastered in order to conduct route clearance here in Afghanistan,” said Sgt. First Class Barry O’Callaghan.
Sgt. First Class O’Callaghan and Sgt. Marvin Niemi are part of the 1433rd Engineer Company’s ANA partnership team in charge of training. “The soldiers of the 3rd of the 205th are highly trained and efficient. They have actually been conducting limited independent operations since early August” said Niemi.
The RCC finished the validation process on Feb. 14, 2013.
“The ANA soldiers that work with the 1433rd are very proficient, well trained soldiers. The validation process gave them the ability to showcase their abilities and prove that they are ready to take the lead in defense of their country as the number of American troops decrease over the next few years”, remarked O’Callaghan.
Lt. Col. Jack Ritter, 120th Engineer Battalion Commander, presented Capt. Aslam, commander of the 3rd Bde., 205th Corps RCC, with the Oklahoma Thunderbird medal in recognition of the RCC’s achievements.
The Oklahoma Thunderbird Medal was designed to recognize and reward an individual or organization demonstrating outstanding service, achievement or contribution made in support of the Oklahoma National Guard in the performance of their missions. Eligible recipients must not be members of the United States Armed Forces, but can include retirees, foreign dignitaries, or coalition forces.
After presenting the Thunderbird Medal to Capt. Aslam, Lt. Col. Ritter addressed the ANA troops in formation and thanked them for their outstanding service and dedication to making their country safer.
“The 3rd of the 205th is one of the best ANA Route Clearance Companies in Afghanistan, and the 1433rd did a great job in partnering and preparing them to take the lead in clearing routes in this area” Ritter said.
Capt. Todd Falor, commander of the 1433rd Eng. Co., also addressed the troops and thanked them for the great working relationship that they have had over the last nine months. He also presented five soldiers with 120th Eng. Bn. coins to recognize their efforts and dedication to the ANA mission.
“The 3rd of the 205th has been a pleasure to work with and is a very professional group of soldiers. We’ve never had a detonation when following down a route that they have cleared” remarked O’Callaghan.
Task Force Outlaw ANA liaison Capt. Montana Dugger explained the way ahead now that the ANA Company is validated. “We will take more of a back seat role as the ANA take the lead. Our company level partnership teams will move more towards mentorship, concentrating more on critique of effectiveness and less on training.”