“We gained a snap shot of the local economy, and what's really going on in the market place on a daily basis,” said Hanson, a native of Mich. “We also gained an understanding of the local businesses, and how the govt is helping or not helping them.”
"The PRT relies primarily on key leaders for info about what is happening in the community, but getting a true sense of what's important or impacts the local citizens of Jalalabad requires talking with everyday people," said Sgt. Kristin Goehler. “We gained real atmospherics by interacting directly with locals, rather than relying on info second-hand,” said Goehler, a Wisc. native. “We also portrayed a positive image of CF by direct interactions with the locals.”
The market patrol was comprised of several small teams of PRT civil affairs Soldiers, broken into 3 smaller, 2-person teams along with a PRT SecFor to ensure the safety of the civil affairs teams as they performed their mission.“This was a group effort with civil affairs, SecFor, and HQ elements to pull this all off,” said Hanson, who is deployed from the 432nd CAB, an Army N.G. unit out of Green Bay. “There are many moving parts to this type of mission, and everyone has to do their part to conduct this type of mission successfully.”
"As the 2-hour mission progressed, the market the team walked through became increasingly more congested with shoppers," added Hanson. Likewise, the team attracted a lot of attention from children and others interested in what the service members were doing.
“We had a good plan and were able to move the way we wanted to, despite how crowded the market was,” said Goehler, who is from the same unit as Hanson. “It's a testament of how good the different elements worked together. With more people, the team got a better feel for the economy," said Hanson. Nearly every shop, which included clothing, jewelry and food, had customers.
“A large number of people in the market indicate the area is secure,” said Hanson. “People have faith in the economy, and aren't hording money for a rainy day. This is exactly what we were hoping to find while conducting our assessment.”
"There were also a large number of local women shopping," said Goehler, whose small team was designed primarily to engage women. Unlike many other areas, the women were without male escorts, which indicates an added sense of security. “The interaction with the women was positive,” said Goehler. “They felt very safe shopping in that market. It shows when women have the freedom of movement to shop without an escort. One woman we talked to has had her own shop for 10 years, and supports her family with her sales.”
"Although this marked the first market walk for the PRT, plans are already in the works to do another one," said Hanson. The goal is assess various markets throughout the prov., helping not only get a pulse for the important issues and the economy but also to assist in market research for construction supplies, which is another area of PRT efforts.
“I didn't experience any negative feedback, and all the interaction was positive,” said Goehler. “The people were receptive to answering our questions, and everyone was accommodating.”
“The visit was tremendous,” said, Deering. “It was great seeing all the leaders and Soldiers out in the FOBs and the COPs...I had a tremendous time, thanking Soldiers, and assured them that Oklahoma was proud of them and supports them."Deering and Jensen were able to visit with bn. level and co. level cmdrs. with the 45th IBCT AO, and at the end of their tour, they visited members of the 1st Bn, 279th Inf., who are assigned to a different brigade HQ. “I was surprised he came out to meet with us,” said Spc. Jason Barrow. Barrow grew up in Sand Springs, and initially started out in the Army Reserves, moved to Fla. and then moved back to Okla., to join the Army N.G. Barrow was one of 9 Soldiers with 279th Inf., awarded the Combat Infantry Badge by Deering.“I thought it was great he could be here for this,” Barrow said. “This is cool that he wanted to be a part, and nice that he and sgt. maj. cares enough about us to come and visit.” Several Soldiers also received the 2-star coin. Giving leadership coins is part of a tradition of leaders to award Soldiers who perform their jobs well, and deserve the personal hand shake where the coin is exchanged.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler III visited the Soldiers of the 3rd BCT, 1st ID, TF Duke, at several bases in Khowst and Paktya Provs., Oct. 18.
KHOWST PROVINCE – During breakfast in the FOB Salerno dining facility, Chandler spoke with Soldiers stationed here about upcoming, Army-wide troop drawdown, and changes in policy. He emphasized that the privilege to serve the Nation will always be offered to those willing to continuously better themselves, and adapt to the needs of the force.
“You have to be willing to do what the Army needs you to do,” he said, adding that selfless service means being committed to the Army, and taking assignments that may not be one’s first choice. Selfless service is one of the 7 Army Values, which Chandler calls the core of what makes a Soldier a Soldier.
He went on to compare the professional Soldier to professionals in the civilian sector. He said Soldiers, like lawyers, clergymen and doctors, all go through rigorous training, and constantly reassess their skills to stay ahead.
“Having the opportunity to break bread with the Sgt. Maj. of the Army was an honor for both my Soldiers and me,” said 1st Sgt. John Pair from N.Y., the First Sgt. of HQ, HC, 3rd BCT. “His taking the time out to visit the troops, and talk about the way forward for our expeditionary Army was very beneficial. He's the right guy to have in our corner.”
HELMAND PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor conducted an op in search of a Taliban leader in Musa Qal’ah district. The leader coordinates shipments of explosives and weapons in support of insurgent ops.
Multiple suspected insurgents were detained during the op.
ZABUL PROVINCE — In Tarnek wa Jaldak district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor conducted a precision air strike, killing numerous insurgents. Following the strike, the SecFor recovered a significant amount of weapons, including multiple AK-47 assault rifles, several RPGs, an 82 mm recoilless rifle, 2 PKM machine guns with 400 rounds of ammo, multiple grenades and ammo pouches. Two suspected insurgents were also detained.KHOST -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor captured a Haqqani network facilitator, during a search op in Sabari district. The facilitator planned and coordinated attacks against Afghan forces, as well as distributing weapons and roadside bombs throughout Sabari district. Two additional suspected insurgents were detained. ----- Also in Sabari district, during a security op a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor captured a Haqqani network facilitator. The facilitator distributed weapons, supplies and equipment to other senior insurgent leaders, as well as planned attacks against Afghan forces in the region. One additional suspected insurgent was detained.
Story and photos by Spc. Sean Mcguire
COB ADDER -- It started in the early morning hours. Soldiers cloaked in the pitch black performed last-minute mental evaluations to prepare themselves for their undertaking; the fall air is doing its part to provide a cool atmosphere, a change from the usual suffocating heat.Despite being in the midst of OND’s final months, these few men and women were preparing to compete against one another in a Best Warrior and NCO competition. The 4th Sust Bde, hailing from Fort Hood, Texas, hosted the competition. 310th ESC subordinate units from across the country made their way to compete in the competition, and to lend a hand. The 21 Soldiers, divided between NCOs and junior-enlisted Soldiers, would first exercise their grit by combining search and detaining skills with modern Army combatives. Immediately after that, a physical fitness test; minutes later, a 5-mile foot march.The demands didn't stop there. It continued into situational training exercise lanes, featuring stations on land navigation, radio communications, first aid, and even essay writing. Soldiers would then shuffle over to qualify on their assigned weapon. Not wasting any time, they were soon, one-by-one standing before a board to test their Army knowledge.The end seemed to be a day that would never come. “This event was actually more mentally demanding than it was physically for me,” said Sgt. Jose Villanueva, an ammo NCO for the 4th Sust. Bde. and a Texas, native who would place 3rd in the competition. After hours spent physically and mentally exerting themselves, the soldiers, accompanied by their sponsors and peers, gathered for a final ceremony. Command Sgt. Maj. Debbie Schroder, the 310th ESC senior-enlisted leader, gave out coins to those who helped support the day’s event, and then to those who competed. Then the quiet calm before the storm took over. Sgt. Kellyn Furgiuele took the crown for the NCOs; Pfc. Michael Doumas emerged the victor from the junior-enlisted ranks. For Command Sgt. Maj. Erik Frey, the senior-enlisted leader for the 4th Sust. Bde., everyone was a winner. “This competition covered many areas that soldiers should be proficient in: from the APFT, warrior tasks and battle drills, to their writing ability,” Frey said. “All 21 competitors were well prepared, and displayed a high level of warrior ethos and motivation.”“All soldiers must always hone their craft of being a Soldier, and these competitions are designed to showcase all the hard work and preparation a Soldier does on a daily basis,” Frey said.
Sgt. Laouali Yacouba, a supply NCO for HHC, 310th ESC, qualifies with his M4A1 assault rifle.
Sgt. Gideon Youn, a soldier with 2nd Sqdn, 183rd Cav Regt, 4th Sust Bde, works a radio during the situational training portion.
Sgt. Kellyn Furgiuele (second from right), steps off at the beginning of the rucksack march.
Staff Sgt. Marcus Ellerbe, a water treatment specialist with the 127th QM Co, 352nd CSSB, from Joint Base Balad, attempts to subdue a combatant, during search and detaining drills.