Afghan national security forces and International Security Assistance Forces completed a 13-day joint operation in Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan, Sept. 14, targeting militant leaders, militant strongholds and safe havens.
Deemed Operation Thunder Darau, Paratroopers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, worked side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts to reach common goals of ridding the area of militant influence and to make the area a safer place for the civilians living there.
"The overall mission during Operation Geronimo Darau was to target insurgent forces operating in our three most contested districts of Sar Hawza, Mata Khan, and Yahya Khel," said U.S. Army Maj. Jeffrey Crapo, executive officer for 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. "The surge operations focused on separating the enemy from the population in these districts in order to start connecting the people to their government. Working with the Afghan national security forces made this mission a huge success and showed the people of their area that the ANSF and the government are here to help."
The operation consisted of 28 separate missions spear-headed by Paratroopers from 1-501st PIR, which over the 13 day stretch removed 28 insurgents from the fight.
The ANSF and Paratroopers also confiscated more than 10 rifles with ammunition, and various improvised explosive device making material.
"One of the biggest impacts achieved during Operation Geronimo Darau was defeating the insurgent command and control operations in Sar Hawza district. This was critical because this district connects two of our largest population centers in the province and had been one of our most contested districts. Defeating the insurgent command and control network in the district forced a large number of fighters to disperse allowing our combined forces to secure the ground lines of communication," Crapo said.
"Also, the removal of these weapons and eliminating of some of the militant threat is a huge boost to security to this area. It not only legitimizes the resolve and professionalism of ANSF, but it makes it that much harder for those who want to do harm to the innocent civilians of the area," Crapo added.
During this operation, the combined forces worked day in and day out to get the job done, trekking over mountains and though rivers to reach their target objective.
"The Paratroopers of 1-501st performed well beyond expectations with over ten valorous awards submitted for actions during Operation Geronimo Darau. Our Paratroopers met every challenge during this demanding high tempo surge period," said Crapo. "The work ethic that Paratroopers and ANSF showed throughout this operation was amazing. On every mission that was conducted the ANSF were always the first ones to initiate any type of dialogue with local civilians and if it came down to it, were willing to fight it out side by side with our Paratroopers."
Even through the long days and sporadic fire fights, the combine force completed every mission.
"I believe Operation Geronimo Darau was an overwhelming success. The focused operations allowed our combined forces to put pressure on the insurgents in places that had rarely seen coalition and ANSF forces. The ANSF was able to demonstrate to the people that they could defeat the insurgents and protect them. We were able to build on the successes achieved by the ANSF during the elections and continue to pressure the insurgents throughout the surge operations," said Crapo.