Soldiers in Company D, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division work hard every day to seek out and stop the enemy in Southern Wardak. When they return to their home at Combat Outpost Carwile, they have the chance to relax and even have some fun.
COP Carwile is strategically located at the southernmost point of the infantry battalion's area of operations in Wardak.
"Our mission here is to secure the population and support the government, as well as secure our main supply route," said Army 1st Sgt. Dewayne Blackmon, Company D first sergeant.
According to Soldiers, life at Carwile can be difficult with the operational tempo and frequent attacks targeting the COP. However, their living conditions have improved immensely during the past year.
Soldiers have a dining facility that serves three hot meals a day, hot showers and heated rooms to live in. Unlike many COPs, Carwile even has a laundry service and a tailor to fix their uniforms.
"When we first got here we showered once a month," said Army Spc. Joshua Gabbard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "Now, I definitely feel cleaner and more at home."
Aside from improved living conditions, Carwile also has two buildings that provide Morale Welfare and Recreation opportunities.
"Soldiers have stuff to do." said Staff Sgt. Dave Gardner, COP Mayor. "They can go to the MWR and keep in contact with their families."
The MWR provides Soldiers with a way to relax, contact home and even enroll in online college courses. One building contains computers with internet and phones to call home. The other houses a theater with television and seating.
"It's nice to come back here and get on the internet and talk to your parents, and just get a break from all of it," Gabbard said.
Living conditions were not always good for troops from Company D, however. When Soldiers first arrived nearly a year ago, Carwile was only large enough to hold a platoon. Safety and amenities for residents were both scarce.
"When we got here there were two tents and two B huts, and no real force protection," Gardner said.
The safety provisions for Soldiers who resided at Carwile have changed drastically during the past year.
"One of the first things we did when we got here was set up a better perimeter," Gardner said.
The perimeter is surrounded by large, dirt-filled walls called "hescoes" and razor wire to keep insurgents out while providing protection against enemy attacks. Various guard towers along the perimeter with Soldiers and Afghan security guards provide constant overwatch of the COP and surrounding areas.
A more recent improvement in security is the Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment camera. With the RAID camera, an improvement made in early August, Soldiers can observe activity of surrounding areas more effectively than with the natural eye, which helps keep attacks on the COP down.
Other improvements include a Helicopter Landing Zone, a gun line and a larger fuel station just outside the COP.
"This is definitely an improvement for Soldiers living out here," said Gardner.
The improvements made to Carwile not only help keep Soldiers safe and morale up, but helps provide Afghan locals with jobs. Soldiers contract local workers to build and work on the COP. However, the location of Carwile makes it difficult to find locals willing to do the work.
"The biggest problem is the logistics of getting stuff down here," Gardner said. "The roads are dangerous and no one wants to drive down here.
"We have had challenges, and daunting as they were, the men have adapted well," Blackmon said. "It's a credit to the men and women who serve here."