“A baseline of info hasn’t been established in Dwomandah district, so we are basically building things from the ground up in conjunction with other govt agencies,” said Scout plt leader 1st Lt. James Rudisill. So far, Scout Plt hasn't encountered the enemy enroute to their areas of interest, but they're in a constant battle against the terrain. Many of the areas of interest can only be reached by traveling off-road through the wadis.
Given the life-threatening nature of rollovers near water, the drivers must be on guard when crossing areas in wadis where water still moves. “The terrain is our biggest enemy—that pretty much sums it up,” said Pfc. Michael Smith, an MRAP driver.
“That’s the biggest issue we have—getting out and being able to engage all these villages,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Edwards, plt sgt for Scout Plt.
Once the Soldiers reach an area of interest, they pull security while the platoon leadership seeks out village leadership, and ask about the village’s civil and security needs.
“The willingness to cooperate is there,” Edwards said, adding that the relationship between the unit and the villagers is a “young relationship with a lot of potential. There's noticeable improvement every time we go out.”
PANJSHIR PROVINCE - Hugo Swire visited PRT Panjshir at FOB Lion.
Panjshir is often referred to as a model prov., for its level of security and close working relationship between the local govt and ISAF, according to AF Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, PRT cmdr.
“If you have a population that is innumerate and illiterate, they're far more likely to be influenced, than if they're able to make decisions and judgments for themselves based on fact and reason,” said Swire. While on top of the mountain Swire planted a mountain oak seed that Jeremy Lewis and the PRT had germinated. Later Swire commented on the tree. “I'll come back and see that tree one day,” said Swire. “I hope that when I do that there are no American and British military here, and that Afghanistan is a country at peace with itself and its neighbors.
COB SPEICHER – Staff Sgt. Michael Clemency, will redeploy to the U.S. this spring. After he returns and in-processes, he'll arrive home just in time to be with his family for the birth of his niece. He looks forward to re-uniting with his own family, and sharing the stories of when he met and helped Iraqis and their families. Clemency is a civil affairs specialist with the 422nd CAB attached to TF Marne. He spent his deployment meeting with village mayors throughout northern Iraq, to see how his bn could assist them with renovations and construction. Clemency was on one of many Civil Affairs teams attached to the bdes assigned to TF Marne. His team worked in support of 1st Bn, 4th Cav Regt, 4th BCT, 1st ID. He worked primarily in the Sinjar area. The teams met with town mayors to determine what kind of amenities the city or town needed. Projects ranged from street repairs to hospital renovations, but most of the time in his area of ops, the mayor's requested improvements to water pipes. All projects were completed by Iraqi contractors Clemency said. "One of Civil Affairs' motto is 'win their hearts and minds,' and we did that," said Clemency. "I enjoyed talking to a lot of the people out there. I saw a lot of things. It's something I can take home and say I saw what was going on in Iraq." Clemency also enjoyed getting to know the Iraqi people. "I enjoyed talking to the kids. They were really smart. You could learn a lot from them. I liked seeing the people happy. It felt good knowing that U.S. forces were there and helped Iraqis." Sgt. James King worked on 2 different CAT teams, with the 4th IBCT, 1st ID. His team supervised more than 30 projects focused on rebuilding schools, wells, roadways, culverts and other infrastructure. The team covered areas all over northern Iraq, including areas close to the Syrian border. One project he's particularly proud of is a market streetlight project in Ba'aj. The project will provide for lights in the main market area for years to come. This not only provides an obvious increase in security during the evening hours, but also improves the economy, thanks to the businesses being able to stay open later, he said of the project. His missions were hard work that required long drives sometimes through sandstorms, but in the end he knew the mission was worth it. "You can't help but like it," he said. "In the end, everybody likes to be a part of the rebuilding of an entire nation. At the end of this tour I'm looking back and going 'yeah, all those people have water because of what our team did' or 'hey, the next time somebody needs to be rushed to the hospital, they've a road to travel on because of us.' It's also the great feeling you get when the mayor of a local city, or a sheik, or a mukhtar shakes your hand and truly is thankful for the work we put in for his people." Col. Rick Leonard commands the 422nd CA Bn. Lately he spends most of his time ensuring everything is in order for his unit to move back home. He said he's proud of his bn for the work they did for TF Marne. He added that his bn worked with local community leaders, broke down cultural barriers, gathered critical info to combat terrorism, and re-built 159 schools in the Ninewa prov. "The Soldiers out there were able to affect the communities in a positive way. I'm proud to be a part of that," Leonard said.Sgt. Alison Lancewicz is a planning and coordination NCO with the bn attached to the Salah ad-Din PRT. At the PRT, she worked with Tikrit University students, where she helped them learn English. Many of the students want to learn English, so they can pass an English language test, that will allow them to transfer to a university in America. "The best part was working with the students," said Lancewicz. "I made a couple of really good friends with a couple of students. When they come to school in America we plan on hanging out. That's the coolest part. When I get home I can say I was a part of rebuilding Iraq," she said. "The country has seen a lot of destruction, but I was a part of the construction." Members of the bn also played a crucial part the TF's support to the Iraqi elections. Capt. Travis Montgomery is the plans officer for TF Marne G-9. He played a role in the Iraqi elections, facilitating what the guys on the ground were doing with the Iraqi elections. "It was hard work. I was the go-to guy for anyone on the ground for the chief of staff or comm. gen. To be that reliable, feels good."