Story and photos by Sgt. Christopher McCullough
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LAGMAN, Afghanistan – Continuing to strengthen their abilities, the Afghan National Army Soldiers led a joint presence patrol with coalition forces through several villages in the Shamulzai district of southern Afghanistan, this past month.
While the ANA from 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps have partnered with soldiers from Battle Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment before, this was the first time that Battle Company had been on any sort of patrol with 2nd Company’s Shamulzai detachment in the southern Afghan district of the same name. The mission was planned and directed by 1/2/205th ANA soldiers who took charge and led the way as they and B/5-20 Inf. visited six villages over the course of two days.
Throughout the patrols the soldiers of Battle Company took a back-seat and followed the ANA’s lead. They watched and evaluated the ANA as they handled their duties with little-to-no U.S. influence.
The solders conducted several patrols where Afghan National Security Forces to villages don’t normally visit.
From the beginning, Battle Company’s command group enabled the ANA to take the lead, said 2nd Lt. Matthew Domenech. The ANA’s officers-in-charge, notably Capt. Sayed Baba Mansory and Capt. JonBaz, both of 1/2/205 ANA, planned the routes, briefed the plan and then accompanied their soldiers throughout the two day patrol. Domenech and his soldiers were always nearby should the ANA have needed help, but they proved themselves capable of executing their plan with little assistance.
Given the language barrier, one would have suspected problems might occur. However, once the two partners were together on the scene they knew exactly what to do, whether it involved dividing their respective teams up to search the villages – or to come up with one single plan, said Domenech.
“I mainly worked with Lt. [Muhammed] Nabi, the platoon leader from Heavy Weapons Company, and I think he and I had a good working relationship in the past,” said Domenech. “We understand each other almost to the point that [we don’t need] an interpreter.”
Over the course of the two days, ANA and U.S. forces navigated their way across the southern Afghanistan landscape visiting villages that had little to no GIRoA or ANSF influence. At the end of the first day, in the village of Samogay, the ANA came across several acres of poppy fields which they got rid of in accordance with Sharia law. It was an important decision made by Mansory, the Shamulazi detachment OIC, because it sent a strong message to the insurgents.
Purpose of the patrols was to send a message that the ANSF and Afghanistan government are likely to target the Taliban’s financing of its insurgency with drugs because drugs are illegal in Afghanistan.
The partnered missions were not limited to ANA-U.S. forces. On the second day of patrols, the Afghan National Police linked up with the 1/2/205th ANA and B/5-20 Inf. Together, the ANA and ANP worked in tandem as they visited four more villages in Shamulzai district; the ANA maintaining security outside the settlements, while the ANP visited with village elders, assessing if they had any needs that required assistance.
At the end of the two days, everyone involved said the partnerships were a success; notably the coalition between the ANA and the ANP – two groups who have overcome problems in the past to come together for the security of Afghanistan.
“The past three days the missions we had were very successful and people do recognize the police here and that they are doing a good job and that they are responsible,” said Mansory. “This is my hope that the ANP will go on more patrols [with us] and visit more villages.”
When the Afghan soldiers needed help they asked for support and the American soldiers helped them.
The Battle Company soldiers already have a return trip scheduled to help extend the security bubble between Shinkai and Shamulzai and reduce the area in which insurgents operate.