Artillerymen interact with local shopkeepers

Combined Joint Task Force - 82 PAO
Story by Sgt. Matthew Thompson

Date: 10.24.2009
Posted: 11.01.2009 15:04
News ID: 40929

WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan — In the village of Zaywalat outside of Combat Outpost Garda, Battery B Soldiers with 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, spoke to the local shopkeepers and interacted with the villagers during a patrol, Oct. 24.

"It helps for them to see us here in a less kinetic fashion interacting with the shopkeepers, especially with the kids," said 1st Lt. Charles Anderson, a platoon leader. "It shows that we're here not as a force to oppress them but as someone here to help them."

The Soldiers stepped out of their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and began the walk through the quarter-mile stretch of shops along the road. Anderson's main mission was to ask the shopkeepers how and where they store their money.

"I'm just trying to get an idea of where the money goes in these bazaars," the Buffalo, N.Y., native added. "We're trying to find out what they do with the money here or if they take it to a bank in Kabul."

"We're just trying to track down and make sure the money stays in Afghanistan and it's not going to bad people," Anderson said.

According to Anderson, when the Soldiers arrived in the area in July, the villagers had been hesitant with offering any assistance to them.

"We're trying to push through and let the people know we're here to help them and partner with their government," Anderson said after talking with one of the business owners.

Staff Sgt. Rodney Turner, a cannoneer, added that he's seen a slow change in the way the villagers react to the Soldiers as they patrol through the village.

"We get a lot more done with being kind to these people rather than being aggressive," the Buffalo, N.Y., native said as several children ran over to shake his hand. "We came in a little aggressive and nervous. Right now they're warming up to us."

"Sometimes you have to just come in, sit down and shake hands," Turner said. "This right here is what will make our mission successful."