Green had just been awarded an on-the-spot promotion to petty officer third class under the Navy Combat Meritorious Advancement Program.
“I was really surprised,” said Green “I'll never forget being promoted over here as part of the PRT. That’s what makes it so special to me. I’ve been in for 3-1/2 years. I’ve passed all my exams, but I haven’t been selected for promotion because my job is locked up. Being promoted out here is something I’ll never forget.”
“Being here is awesome,” said Green. “It’s a great experience. I actually volunteered to come here. I wanted to see a different side of the military, something completely different from what I do in the Navy. I wanted to have boots on ground instead of being on the water.”
“Petty Officer Green is a superb and talented sailor,” said Navy Cmdr. Wilson Marks, comm officer of the PRT. “I hand-picked him to be my driver because of his enthusiasm for the mission and his exceptional ability to learn things quickly. He's a phenomenal asset to the team, and being able to promote him through CMAP is one of the highlights of my tour.”
When asked what his most memorable experience here has been, he quickly answered the day he earned his combat action ribbon. On the first mission executed by Ghazni PRT after arriving in theater, the convoy was attacked by enemy mortar fire.
“I was driving the cmdr on a mission to Jaghato. While we were traveling through a small village I spotted a plume of dirt approximately 25 meters ahead of my vehicle,” Green recounted. “The mortars kept dropping. It was scary. I knew I had to be professional and not freeze up. It was my job to get the cmdr out of there.”
No point of origin could be identified, so the decision was made to push through the kill zone without maneuvering or firing. Greens calm, mature actions under fire and skillful driving through the rugged terrain assisted with the convoys’ safe return to the FOB.
“Petty Officer Green is an outstanding sailor,” said his supervisor Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Christopher Debus, communications officer for the PRT. “Coming here billeted as the CO’s driver, then asked to work for the communication shop is a lot to ask from such a junior sailor. He is working totally out of his rate, and didn’t know the least bit about radio communications equipment, or how to stand watch in the tactical ops center. It’s no wonder he received the command’s nomination and was selected for this promotion.”
Known as the “go-to-expert” when it comes to troubleshooting, Green repairs a wide variety of communication equipment inside the vehicles used by the PRT, which suffer damage due to hard use and enemy engagement. He also voluntarily helps train soldiers assigned to other units who have no communications personnel assigned. Going above and beyond simply fixing the equipment, Green supervised and trained the other units to be able to complete their own necessary repairs.
“If not for his can-do attitude and quick study, the downtime for these vehicles would have been triple or more, due to the need to have them evacuated to a higher level maintenance facility,” said Debus. “Green is a true force multiplier.”
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dwight Henderson
About 800 local residents gather on the grounds of a school for a meeting in the Garmsir district, Jan. 19, 2010. Marines and Afghan forces provided security.
"We are here to help each other and to talk about the horrible incident that happened here and why it happened," said Helmand Gov. Mangal. After an opening prayer, tribal elders, village elders and Abdullah Jan, the Garmsir district gov., spoke to the people about the demonstrations.
"During the demonstration, the district gov., the police chief, and the colonel came together and solved the problem," one tribal elder said. Mangal delivered a passionate speech about the protests and the district’s future. "The demonstration that happened is not like the people of Garmsir," Mangal said. "It was terrorists, and the Taliban, that used the people of Garmsir."
Mangal added that he would start his own investigation into the accusations of a desecrated Quran, saying he believes the allegation that sparked the demonstration was planned outside the country by foreign members of the Taliban."There was no way for the Taliban to fight us," Mangal said. "The only way for them to fight us was to use the civilian people. Our enemy doesn't like us to progress. They don't like us to be successful in our lives." Mangal noted the restraint shown by Marines during the riots, as the crowd damaged their vehicles with gunfire and stones. He promised to rebuild the school, and he spoke about the future of Helmand prov., pledging that in a short amount of time, “we're going to take over all districts from the Taliban." British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, ISAF RC South cmdr noted that out of Helmand’s 60 districts, Garmsir is one of the greatest examples of progress. He also commented on the restraint shown by the Marines.
"The restraint shown here is evident of how much they respect you," he told the local residents. "General Nicholson's forces are here to help and protect you." Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, MEB Afghanistan cmdr said it was appropriate to have the shura in the school that had been damaged in the riots. "The No. 1 target of this entire protest was to destroy this school, and that's because this school represents the future," he said. "This is where the future doctors, lawyers, engrs, and generals come from in Garmsir." Nicholson told the local residents of the hours of cultural training Marines receive in preparation for deployment, and promised that any Marine who showed disrespect or misconduct would be sent home. The shura's message was of hope for the future of Garmsir and all of Helmand prov., through continued partnership between ISAF, Afghan forces and the local populace. "If we work together, we can ensure something like this doesn't happen again, and Garmsir can become one of the great cities of this country," Nicholson said.
FOB DELTA - Sgt Kevin Behling conducts a mission briefing prior to escorting members of the Wasit PRT during a meeting at Wasit University in Kut, Jan. 26. The meeting with the University Pres. was to discuss future cooperation with universities in the U.S.
Army Sgt Myron Hicks, attached to 1-10 FA Bn, provides security for members of the Wasit PRT, during a meeting at Wasit University.
Sgt Tyrone Walker provides security.
Sgt. 1st Class Anthony White, Plt Sgt for Blue Plt, Bravo Battery, 1-10, listens in to radio traffic while Sgt Kevin Behling provides security.
1st Lt. Derek Bennett, Plt Leader for Blue Plt, takes notes during a meeting with members of the Wasit PRT.
FOB MAREZ - Army Lt. Col. Richard Coffman, cmdr of 1st Bn, 64th AR Regt, 2nd BCT, 3rd ID, talks with local Sheiks during a tour of Saff Al Tuff primary school, near Ash Shura, Jan. 23. The school is celebrating it's reopening today, after a 2 month renovation project.
Lt. Col. Coffman talks with the Mayor of Ash Shura, after a ribbon cutting at Saff Al Tuff primary school.
A new classroom at Saff Al Tuff primary school.
A chalkboard is covered in both Arabic and English writing, after a class takes an English test.
By Army Sgt. Ben Hutto
Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Strauch instructs an Iraqi soldier, Jan. 14, 2010.
When his Iraqi counterpart asked if his soldiers were doing anything wrong, Strauch quickly reassured him. “No, you guys aren’t doing anything wrong,” he said. “You’ve just reached the point where we can move on to the next level. Your guys are ready for more advanced training.”With a satisfied nod from the Iraqi sgt, the training continued. Strauch said the situation was a far cry from what he experienced when he was trying to train the IA for the first time 5 years ago at FOB Justice, where he said they would show up undisciplined and unprepared for training. “There was so much chatter,” he said. “Every time we tried to show them anything, there was a conversation. Rounds were going off left and right. It was crazy.” What he's seeing from the IA these days is unrecognizable from his experiences during his prior deployment, he said. "Back then, a lot of us had a sense that a lot of Iraqi soldiers were just there for the paycheck,” he said. “Now you can see that they've a lot more pride in the uniform they are wearing. In everything they do, it's obvious they want to do it well.” Staff Sgt. Mark Lowe agreed with Strauch. “They're very eager to learn better tactics,” he said. “They focus a lot more on safety now. It's encouraging when you see them looking at the cause-and-effect scenarios when they plan scenarios. That wasn’t always there.” Lowe recounted his first experience with the IA during Op Desert Storm in 1991. “We had heard so much about Iraq’s million-man army,” he said. “To be honest, it weighed on a lot on our minds. At the beginning stages of that war, I think both sides realized, very early on, just how ineffective a lot of their tactics were, and how well ours work.” Lowe said he sees the IA improving at a rapid pace every time they train.
“Their doctrine has come a long way from Desert Storm,” he said. “You can see it in the way they run checkpoints, and in the way they conduct raids and plan ops. Everything runs smoother and more efficiently.” As far as the IA has come, Strauch and Lowe said, they see ways they could improve. “First and foremost, every army unit has something they can improve on, but the IA has a ways to go as far as supplying their soldiers,” Strauch said. “Their flow of supplies doesn’t always trickle down effectively. They've good equipment; it's just a matter of them getting it to the people who need it.” As the U.S. winds down its military presence in Iraq, Strauch is concerned that this need will become more apparent. “We help out as much as we can with providing supplies, but we won’t be here forever,” he said. “Without ammo or equipment, it’s almost impossible for any army to be successful.” Strauch also said that the training he conducts with his counterparts will need to continue in his unit’s absence. “The U.S. Army has been working on and adjusting their tactics for 200 years now,” he said. “The current incarnation of the IA started in 2004. They definitely have some catching up to do.”
Still, Strauch said, he's heartened by the progress the IA has made. “To see how far they've come in 5 short years is encouraging to me,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Mark Lowe instructs a squad of Iraqi soldiers.
An Iraqi soldier practices the proper procedure for securing a detainee on Staff Sgt. Joseph Strauch.