Bloomfield was introduced to the concept by 1st Lt. Martha Garcia and Staff Sgt. Carlos Llanes of the 101st Div., during her deployment with the Iowa N.G. Bloomfield decided to extend her tour, and work with the 45th IBCT to see the concept of the school come to fruition. Bloomfield has a degree in education and teaches kindergarten through 8th grade in her civilian job in Iowa. Her background helps her to both teach the children and mentor the volunteers and teachers. “This experience will help my wife and me to be better teachers,” said Hedayatullah, an English teacher from the village. “We appreciate the lessons; we're learning from Ms. Bloomfield." Hedayatullah and his wife continue to gain experience through this reading program. He expressed excitement about how the teachers like the students, and students like their teachers. The program is well received by the local Bagram community, and Soldiers have been told by the Afghans that a hundred more parents want to enroll their children. “One day, I want to see more schools for my village to make education better,” said Hedayatullah, an English teacher in the village. “The parents are very happy and thank us for teaching English classes.” The school operates on donations to the program. One of the biggest supporters of the project is the Adopt a Soldier Platoon, which supplied 40 laptops for the students. Op Care, a local Bagram charity, provided many of the school supplies and books. Churches and individual soldiers have also donationed supplies to support the school and the effort. “This is definitely a program that will expand,” said Master Sgt. James Wooding of Mass., anti-terrorism force protection supervisor, assigned to the 45th IBCT, and volunteer for the program. “This has allowed for tearing down barriers between the local Afghans and the military… it has helped us build trust.” The success of the community effort and work of the volunteers continues to reach new milestones. What started as an idea is now a reality, and one that have parents waiting to enroll their children. “The full class of girls is ground breaking,” said Bloomfield. “The Bagram community has been known to be very conservative, so we're very happy to be able to share this opportunity with the girls. I hope we can continue this level of trust with the local community.”
“We’ve really moved beyond partnership to more of a mentorship,” said Lt. Col. Dave Brown. “It’s nice to see the Afghans do for themselves,” he added. Brown appointed Capt. Roger Snead, the 201st BSB’s Combined Action officer- in-charge, and a native of Ala., to work hand-in-hand with the Kandak to help them develop a self sufficient, efficient logistical op.
Snead volunteered for the job, because he saw a way to make a significant difference in the war effort. “I saw this as an opportunity to lead the way for the ANA to be self sufficient, which would in turn lead us to withdrawing,” Snead said. Sneed and his 8-man team meet regularly with the ANA, help them conduct training, and supervise their ops.
For the first time, the Afghan soldiers conducted sling load training, which consists of hooking supplies underneath a helicopter, for the purpose of airlifting them to a specific destination. At the end of the course the newly-trained soldiers successfully supported ANA missions during Op Maiwan III, a large-scale joint op conducted in May.
“There were a limited number of accessible roads during Maiwan III, so our students hooked supplies up to a CH-47 helicopter, and helped support the ANA troops in the field,” Snead said. They also taught classes in how to requisition equipment from the Ministry of Defense, driving, first aid, preventative medicine, and radio ops.
"The ANA take care of their own missions," Brown explained. They perform their own pre-combat inspections, brief their own missions, and roll out with no coalition support.
“There have been a lot of changes,” said ANA Col. Sami, 5th Kandak Cmdr. “They’ve really helped. We now have trained drivers and Soldiers who write well.”
"Though a lot of progress has been made, there remain several challenges that still need to be conquered," Brown said. “The key to ANA success is logistics and sustainment,” Brown added. “The next step is to link the national logistics support down to tactical logistics support, to ensure soldiers have what they need to conduct ops.”
Story and photo by Maj. David Mattox
KANDAHAR PROVINCE -- In Registan district, a combined Afghan and coalition patrol detained numerous suspected insurgents, and seized a narcotics cache during an op, Oct. 23. The cache contained 1,47-lbs of wet opium and 198-lbs. of dry opium.URUZGAN PROVINCE -- In Tarin Kot district, a combined Afghan and coalition patrol detained several insurgents during an op to disrupt a lethal aid and narcotics network, yesterday. HELMAND PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition patrol killed 2 insurgents and detained one suspected insurgent, during an op in Nahr-e Saraj district, Oct. 23. One of the insurgents killed is a leader responsible for directing attacks against ANSF and CF. The op also seized a grenade, and a quantity of small arms.
----- CF conducted a precision airstrike against an insurgent compound in Sangin district, yesterday. The targeted compound was used by insurgents to conduct small arms fire attacks, and construct IEDs for use against Afhgan and CF. In addition, insurgents placed several bombs around the facility presenting a significant threat to coalition and Afghan forces, as well as, the civilian population. The airstrike successfully destroyed the IED-making facility without damaging any nearby structures or fields, and no civilians were harmed during the op.
----- In Musa Qal’ah district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor killed one insurgent and detained 2 suspected insurgents, during an op in search of a Taliban leader, yesterday. The leader negotiates with narcotic suppliers to provide finances for insurgent ops.
NIMROZ PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition patrol detained 2 suspected insurgents, during an op to disrupt insurgent movements in Khash Rod district, Oct. 22. The patrol also seized an IED.EastKABUL PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition patrol detained 2 insurgents, including a suspected insurgent leader in Kabul district, yesterday. The leader is responsible for supplying lethal aid used in attacks against ANSF and CF. GHAZNI PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition patrol seized a small weapons cache, during an op to disrupt an insurgent network in Ab Band district, Oct. 23. The op seized one 107 mm rocket, 37 75 mm rounds, and one homemade grenade.
PAKTIYA PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained multiple suspected insurgents, during an op in search of a Haqqani network leader in Gardez district, yesterday. The network leader constructs and stores explosives and weapons, and leads insurgents in roadside bomb attacks throughout the Zurmat and Gardez districts. The SecFor confiscated explosives and multiple weapons including grenades, assault rifles, bayonets, ammo, and ammo pouches.----- In Dzadran district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor killed multiple insurgents, during a precision airstrike. The target of the op was a group of heavily armed network fighters, who operate in Dzadran and Shwak districts. NANGARHAR PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained a suspected insurgent, during an op in search of a Taliban facilitator in Khugyani district, yesterday. The facilitator provides weapons, ammo and roadside bombs to insurgents. WARDAK PROVINCE -- In Maidan Shahr district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained multiple suspected insurgents, during an op in search of a Taliban leader, yesterday. The leader coordinates ambush attacks against Afghan govt officials.
COB MAREZ -- After sustaining a presence in Mosul for nearly a decade, U.S. troops officially handed over their long-used military installation to Iraqi military officials, Oct. 11, at what was formerly known as COB Marez. Armed with a stack of index cards, Chris Galon, the deputy garrison cmdr., has spent the last year inventorying and transitioning each structure at Marez in preparation for the final transfer. "I came here to do base closure," said Galon. "That was my mission.""Major structures included in the transfer were a combined coordination center, wastewater plant, 2 fire stations, the Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center, and the Diamondback airfield," said Galon. U.S. forces also left generators, non-tactical vehicles, and a/c housing units," she said."Since arriving in August, soldiers with 2nd Bn, 29th FAR, 4th AAB, 1st AR Div, have worked closely with Galon to detail the base, and remove any materials or documents that couldn't be turned over to the Iraqis," said Lt. Col. Thomas Bolen, the bn cmdr."When we first showed up to Marez in Aug., we looked around, and everyone wondered how we were going to close this place," Bolen explained. "With 5 plts. working industriously, the bn. was able to complete its mission in less than 3 months," he said. "By leaving behind a functional, "move-in ready" installation with running water, electricity, furniture and basic force protection measures, Iraqi forces won’t have to start from scratch," he said. "I think it's a positive impression that we just didn't walk off the COB," said Bolen, who is on his 3rd deployment to Iraq.
"The Iraqis worked with the base closure team, to ensure inventory items were reviewed and visually accounted for," said Galon. "With the transfer of Marez completed, Iraq’s SecFor will now have to determine the most effective way to use the facilities," said Galon."Iraqis are very adaptable, and they'll do a good job at figuring out how to utilize buildings and structures for their own needs," said Lt. Col. Michael Cohen, sqdn surgeon for 2nd Sqdn. In 2004, Cohen deployed with the 67th Combat Support Hospital to Diamondback, the airfield attached to Marez, alongside other deployed support elements. In Aug., he returned with the cavalry sqdn. to help support the OND mission.Following his 2nd tour, Cohen said that he noticed several upgrades to security and protection at Marez. "It's reassuring to see all of those T-barriers, and metal on top of the dining facilities and gyms," he said. Cohen also noted a drastic difference in the level of hostility directed against the base and U.S. forces.During his 1st deployment, "Marez and Diamondback were hotbeds for mortar attacks, ambushes and suicide bombers," Cohen said. "Now, explosions and violence seem to be a rare occurrence," he admitted. "It's a visible sign that they're taking over their security," said Bolen. "Ever since U.S. forces entered Iraq in 2003, people have been asking what victory will look like," he said. "We've come in and made a few changes, worked with the Iraqis for a number of years now, and now we're handing their country back to them," said Bolen. "If you ask me, victory looks like the Iraqi people in charge of their country and their facilities, and really, their future.”