LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — As the soldiers from the 857th Construction Company began packing their trucks and preparing for the journey back to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank, their job site was curiously empty. The flat empty land they were leaving behind at FOB Altimur showed very little evidence of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ever having been there, which is exactly what the Horizontal Platoon wanted.
“One of the things we want to do is return the land back to its original state,” said 2nd Lt. Jimmy Bodies, a native of Clarksdale, Miss., and the platoon leader of the 857th Horizontal Platoon.
This was his first deconstruction mission, but with the gradual decline of ISAF personnel in Afghanistan as the Afghan National Army (ANA) continues to take the lead in the fight, it probably won’t be his last.
“Base closures are always critical missions to perform. I’m extremely proud of the guys’ motivation,” Bodies said.
The platoon of over 30 soldiers received help from Afghan soldiers stationed in the area and finished the task two days ahead of schedule. FOB Altimur, which had served as a joint base in the Logar Province, was one of many bases that were in the process of being handed over to the ANA completely.
The platoon deconstructed between 20 and 30 buildings on the older northern section of the FOB, including a fuel and a water point. A few buildings were left behind for ANA use, including classrooms and several tents. They left a large stand-off distance between the remaining structures and the outer perimeter of the FOB, something that was part of the overall plan to help increase the 1st Kandak’s defense posture once they became the sole residents.
The 1st Kandak of the 4th Brigade, 203rd Corps is the ANA’s battle space owner for security in the Southern Logar area. Their responsibility extends past the Baraki Barak, Charkh, and Kherwar districts, as well as the southern area of Pul-e Alam. They are the only Kandak operating in the area without a direct ISAF partnership. According to Maj. Rodriguez, the former mayor cell officer in charge, there are plans of a Czech Military Advisor Team to arrive in the near future, but all of the 1st Kandak’s operations so far have been unilateral.
In an agreement between Lt. Col. Rauf, the 1st Kandak Commander, and Maj. Rodriguez, much of the salvageable materials and lumber were saved for the 1st Kandak.
“They were really thankful for all of the stuff we left at Altimur,” Maj. Rodriguez said. “As we left, Lt. Col. Rauf promised to defend the FOB and defeat the insurgent threat.”