Story and photos by Sgt. Francis O'Brien
Kandahar ANA Soldiers Celebrate Opening of New Military Clinic
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD – For the past several months, ANA medics have trained with their ISAF counterparts to learn, practice, and ultimately master some of the most advanced medical practices used on today’s battlefields. As a result, hundreds of Afghan combat medics are entering the battlefield better prepared to treat both ANSF, as well as the Afghan populace.Despite their constant efforts to stay on the forefront of medicine, a lack of supplies and modern facilities continues to hinder Afghan medical personnel, but for the Afghan soldiers in southern Kandahar Prov., that’s a fight that has come to an end.The new facility features more than 150 rooms and offers many different amenities, such as an X-ray room, pharmacy, a dental room, nursing station, a hearing exam room, and a vision exam room. “We are very happy to have the new facility,” said Abdun Rahman, a medical doctor with the ANA’s 205th Corps. “We are very appreciative of the American people, and we're excited for the capabilities the updates allow us to perform. We have seen a lot of improvement.” Many of the ANA medical staff shared Rahman’s enthusiasm and were very excited for the future with their new aid station. “In the past, we had a bad facility that made treating patients difficult,” said Abdul Hamid, a nurse with the 205th Corps. “We're now able to treat, transport and house patients,” said Col. Hakim, medical doctor with ANA’s 205th Corps. Hakim said, "being able to provide 24-hour services to the people of Afghanistan has drastically lowered the number of patients being referred to the higher echelons for care. A pharmacy stocked with both preventive medicines, as well as over the counter drugs, allows the ANA to treat minor illnesses on the spot with a simple recommendation from the Afghan doctors. Hakim highlighted that since the opening of the aid station, the number of medical evacuations to Kandahar Regional Hospital has gone from 150 to 200 patients a week down to just 3. He said that he hopes to bring the number of medevacs to zero, as more medics and doctors continue to complete advanced training. Rahman added, "the capabilities of the medical staff and aid station should continue to improve, as the unit prepares to double its current staff as well as its equipment count. The ANA, in support of the ANSF, continues to lead the way in medicine, as well as improve its ability to self-sustain and support lower levels of governance.
Fazal Hayat, a dental asst. with the ANA's 205th Corps, treats a patient at an aid station on Camp Hero.
An ANA soldier with the 205th Corps, prepares prescription medicines for distribution at the pharmacy section.
Soldiers of the 156th MP Detachment Lay Down the Law
CAMP MARMAL -- "The primary objective of the 156th MP Det., is to keep law and order in Regional Command North.
They've done that … and so much more. With just 45 soldiers in the company, it's amazing that they're able to successfully complete this mission, let alone the multitude of other tasks that they take on," said Capt. Kenneth Murray, a native of W.Va., company cmdr., with an Army N.G. unit out of Monaville, W.Va.
Investigator Shane Bryant, a native of W.Va., and team chief of investigations at Camp Marmal, also said that the unit has made significant advances since the beginning of their deployment. “It’s all about building a strong foundation, and then building on top of that. We’re only the 2nd MP unit to be here at Camp Marmal,” Bryant said. “Looking back to what it was like when we first got here, and to what it is now, our unit has made leaps and bounds.”
Success can also be seen in the relationship that has been fostered between the 156th MP DET and its operational parent unit, the 1st ACB. “Working with the 1st ACB has been fantastic,” said Murray, “The support we’ve received from the 1st ACB has been outstanding. They’ve taken us under their wing, and treat us just like any of their other subordinate units.”"The effect of the MP’s has had a positive effect on the 1st ACB," said Lt. Col. Michael Burns, a native of Ala., and deputy comm. officer of the 1st ACB. “The 1st ACB has definitely benefited from its relationship with the 156th MP Co,” said Burns. “There's no doubt in my mind that soldiers and civilians enjoy a safer and more disciplined environment, because of the presence of Capt. Murray and his soldiers.”
Investigator Shane Bryant takes a picture of a local Afghan prisoner.
Spc. Stephanie Brown, a native of W.Va., and a traffic accident investigator in the 156th, inspects supplies that are being shipped back to the U.S. as soldiers of the 155th Inland Cargo Transfer Co, 10th Trans. Bn, 7th Sust. Bde, prepare to redeploy back to Fort Eustis, Oct. 24. Customs checks all equipment and supplies that are to be shipped back to the U.S., and are one of the many responsibilities of the 156th MP.
Sgt. Christopher Parker (right), a native of W.Va., and an MP patrol supervisor, and Spc. Stephanie Brown inspect supplies that are being shipped back to the U.S.
District HQ’ Personnel Improve Computer Skills
FARAH – Good communication skills are a necessity for a govt to be successful. For most of the HQ’ workers, this was the first time they had used a computer. “Basic computer skills come naturally to the U.S. military,” said Capt. Philip Hardwick, SFAT 15 officer-in-charge. “It's a skill that we should pass onto our ANSF partners, to ensure that we provide them with the tools necessary to effectively coordinate and share info.”During the training, workers learned the fundamentals of how to use Microsoft Outlook, Excel and Word in order to understand the different methods of creating reports. After they were able to create reports, they learned how to digitally send them. “It's important for CF to train ANSF on the non-tactical aspects of ops,” said Master Sgt. Danny Lujan, SFAT 15 NCO-in-charge. “Being able to more effectively plan and provide info to ANSF at all levels will not only aid in mission planning, but mission execution.”
Soldiers from SFAT 15, instruct Farah District HQ’ workers.
KANDAHAR PROVINCE -- In Kandahar district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained multiple suspected insurgents, during an op in search of a Taliban leader, yesterday. The leader facilitates roadside bombs for use in attacks throughout the area.
HELMAND PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained 2 suspected insurgents, during a search for a Taliban leader in Nawah-ye Barakzai district, yesterday. The leader coordinates attacks against CF.
PAKTIKA PROVINCE — A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor captured 2 Haqqani network leaders, during an opn in Sarobi district, Oct. 28. One leader provided insurgent fighters with funding, weapons, supplies and safe havens, and the other leader coordinated attacks against Afghan forces. The SecFor detained 2 additional suspected insurgents.
BAMYAN PROVINCE -- Afghan civilians discovered 3 weapons caches, and turned the contents over to CF in Kahmard district, yesterday. The caches consisted of an 85 mm rocket, an 82 mm recoilless rifle round, an anti-personnel mine, 120 40 mm grenade rounds, 101 grenades, 49 grenade fuses, 11 rockets, 8 RPGs, and 140 rounds of small arms ammo.
LOGAR PROVINCE -- In Pul-e ‘Alam district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained 2 suspected insurgents during a search for a Haqqani network leader. The leader directs attacks against Afghan forces.
----- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained a suspected insurgent, during an op in search of a Taliban leader in Charkh district, yesterday. The leader is responsible for multiple attacks throughout the region. During the op the SecFor confiscated multiple RPGs.
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX – A San Jose citizen soldier witnessed the final days of America’s 8-year conflict in Iraq from within the ornate halls, offices and conference rooms of the Al-Faw Palace. Over much of the past year, the California Army N.G.’s 40th CAB has commanded more than 259 rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft that have been performing full-spectrum aviation ops across the Iraq Joint Ops Area.Lt. Col. Raymond Watts, a CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter pilot, worked out of an office on the third floor of the Al Faw Palace, where he served as a liaison officer for most of 2011. Watts acted as the intermediary between the 40th CAB and its higher command, called United States Forces-Iraq. “This has been the center of gravity for USF-I,” Watts said, shortly before his tenure at Al Faw Palace came to an end. “It has been interesting working here, to say the least.” Al Faw is a massive structure that dominates an island set in a man-made lake on Victory Base Complex. The palace was built by Saddam Hussein, but was taken over by U.S. forces in 2003, and became an HQ building for USF-I. For the past 8 years, the halls of Al Faw were walked by some of the highest ranking personnel in the American military and govt. Full-bird cols. could seem as numerous as sgts. on the bridge that led to Al Faw’s arched entrance-way. Generals were a common sight under the huge chandelier that hangs above the palace’s expansive rotunda. When units needed to move equipment and personnel across Iraq by air, Watts was the man in the middle who coordinated aviation missions with his brigade and the USF-I aviation staff at J33 Air. Watts has been serving as a part-time soldier with the N.G. for the past 31 years. For 15 years, he worked as a technology sales group mgr. in Silicon Valley, while flying Chinooks a weekend a month and 2 weeks a year with the Guard. But in 2008, the technology company he worked for eliminated his sales group, and his 15-year career in the tech industry came to a halt. He then took a full-time position in Stockton, Calif., as a N.G. CH-47 helicopter facility cmdr., filling in after the previous cmdr. deployed to Iraq. In 2011, it was Watts’ turn. He said goodbye to his wife and 3 children, and left his home in Calif. for Baghdad, arriving at the Al Faw Palace early this year. Watts said that his children are somewhat enamored by the idea of their dad working in a palace. “But, being away is hard,” he said. “Granted, there are some luxuries and benefits working in the palace, but it’s the distance that’s been the challenge.” Driving golf balls into the lake from palace balconies, rubbing elbows with America’s most influential and powerful people, and enjoying some of the Army’s best dining facilities were a few of the amenities. But, incoming mortar rounds were not uncommon, and served as a reminder that hostile forces were still out there. Watts has left Al Faw for the more austere and isolated conditions at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq’s western desert, where he will finish out his deployment with the 40th CAB. “We’re leaving on our own accord,” Watts said, shortly before saying goodbye to his palace life. “I'm truly blessed to have had this opportunity to work with such a fine group of professionals. The staff here was the best of the best.”