Dear Interested Reader,
Kansas farmer finds niche in rural Laghman. Weapons surrender marks end of violent land dispute. Veterans' Day is special for Soldiers at FOB Frontenac. Combined forces capture Taliban leader. ISAF Joint Comand operational update, Nov. 10 2011.
Iraq: Navajo Soldiers: "Here for our country."
RC-East, Bagram Media Center
Kansas Farmer Finds Niche in Rural Laghman
Written by Army Capt. Wes Topel
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Baxa, of Kan., surveys local markets and talks to the population, in order to get a feel for the needs of the community, and plan projects that will make a lasting impact on the residents of Mehtar Lam. (Army photo by 1st Lt. Kathleen Argonza-Pangburn, Kansas ADT)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE — Looking to the symbol of the National Guard, we see a Revolutionary War Soldier, musket in hand, standing beside a farm plow. Several states, including Kansas, have recognized the wealth of Guardsmen with deep roots in farming or civilian occupations in the agri-sciences.
At age 54, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Baxa, may be the oldest member of the Kansas ADT, but his constant energy level and determination to share his expertise with the people of Afghanistan, keeps him very young at heart.
Growing up in the rural community of Randall, Kan., Baxa has been involved in some level of farming all his life, and worked for many years on his brother-in-law’s family farm. This experience allows Baxa to apply a half century worth of farming knowledge to share with farmers of Afghanistan.
Serving as the team’s hydrologist, his knowledge of proper irrigation, water conservation and land mgt., is essential to the work the team hopes to accomplish with local farmers. Baxa believes in the ADT mission and fully enjoys working with Afghan farmers to reinforce techniques that will lead to better crop production, and in turn, better lives for the people of Afghanistan. He focuses his work on specialized micro-grants, small monetary awards provided directly to the farmer. Baxa views the potential of the micro-grants as an avenue through which “young farmers’ dreams may come true.”
“You can live your dreams,” Baxa said, suming up his philosphy on life, "by simply stating, 'I truly have enjoyed life.' I’ll go until the Army says, that we do not need you anymore, or until my wife says, that's enough.”
Weapons Surrender Marks End of Violent Land Dispute
By Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan
Nangarhar Deputy Gov. Gerdiwald stands beside Army Lt. Col. Jerry Turner, cmdr. for the 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav Bn, 3rd BCT, 25th ID, TF Bronco, to discuss issues with local tribal elders as part of a weapon turn in ceremony, Nov. 9.
Malik Nazir, the Nangarhar peace Jirga chief, speaks on reconciliation and peacefully moving forward, during a weapons turn-in ceremony. The Sepal tribe relinquished their weapons as a sign of peace after years of violent land dispute with a neighboring tribe.
Veterans' Day is Special for Soldiers at FOB Frontenac
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
A newly married Jason Harris, shows off his Army dress uniform at his wedding. Harris is following in his father’s footsteps, and is an Iraqi and Afghan veteran, assigned as a cavalry scout to the 5th Sqdn, 1st Cav Regt, 1st Stryker BCT, 25th ID.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC -- Growing up in Westwood, Calif., Army Spc. Riley Miller, 21, enjoyed playing chess, loved reading, and never thought twice about raising his right hand to join the military. For Miller, the closest he ever came to understanding the military growing up, was through the stories his grandparents told him on rare occasions. “When I think about Veterans Day, I always think back to my grand dad and how he would become quiet,” Miller said. “I knew I would never know what he went through, so I just gave him space and respect.” Miller is an info tech specialist.
Thousands of miles away and on the opposite side of the U.S. in Ala., Spc. Jason Harris, 24, a cavalry scout, spent most of his holidays clinging to pictures of his dad. Unlike Miller, Harris enjoyed sports and excelled at school when he could. Because Jason’s dad was in the 5th Special Forces Group from Fort Campbell, Ky., he didn’t get to spend a lot of time in one place. Like many ‘Army brats’ the demands of everyday life were made a reality early. For Harris, Veterans Day, was a holiday chalked up to his dad being gone, and although he missed his dad he said he grew to understand why he chose to serve. “I was always proud of my dad, and Veterans Day took on a special meaning for me,” Harris said. “He’s the reason I joined, and the reason I will continue to serve.”
On paper the 2 are complete opposites with completely different backgrounds, and different ways of remembering past Veterans Days. However, as the upcoming holiday approaches and Americans all over the world celebrate the sacrifices of all the men and women serving in the military, both past and present, the loner from Westwood High School, and the popular southern boy have found themselves sharing one thing; they're both part of the many service members who can call themselves vets.
The 2 are both soldiers deployed with the 5th Sqdn. “I've a better understanding than I did before,’ Miller said. “Although what I'm doing is nothing compared to what my grand dad went through; I feel like maybe in a small way I know why the holiday meant so much to him.”
"When you look at all the veterans," Harris said, “there’s nothing that distinguishes them from everyone else. It’s just an internal drive to do something not many people can do. When you go to war your past is thrown out the window,” Harris said. “Your priorities become the safety of your battle buddy, and how you were raised doesn’t matter anymore.”
They both agree that being veterans holds a very special meaning that only other veterans understand. “It’s great to be honored, but at the same time I didn’t join for celebrations and the parades,” Harris said. “It’s special to be included in a group of people that includes grandparents and other family members throughout the years.”
“I’m proud to represent my family and serve,” Miller said. The two have embraced the bond that they'll forever share, and have made a promise to themselves, to focus on the sacrifices made by those who came before them. For Miller it’s for the solemn grandfather, while for Harris it’s for the loving and caring father who fought to raise a son who would become a young soldier.
Spc. Riley Miller poses for a picture after coming off of a mission in southern Kandahar.
Blackanthem Military News
Combined Force Captures Taliban Leader
By Army Staff Sgt. Luke Graziani
LAGHMAN PROVINCE - Afghan and CF captured Bari Ali, a mid-level Taliban leader, during a cordon and search op, Nov. 3. The ANA used loudspeakers and a pre-written script to call out Ali, in an effort to have him surrender to CF willingly. Ali and two other individuals, one of which was identified as his brother, Roshan Zilmai, surrendered to CF without incident.
Ali is known to command Taliban fighters in conflicts with CF. The capture of Ali is expected to sever the lines of communication between senior level Taliban and low-level insurgents. The ANA confiscated weapons, hand grenades, tactical fighting gear, and multiple cell phones during the search.
ISAF Joint Command Operational Update, Nov. 10, 2011
ISAF Joint Command
KANDAHAR PROVINCE — A combined Afghan and CF detained an insurgent leader and several additional insurgents, during a security op in Kandahar district, Nov. 7. The leader was responsible for planning IED attacks and distributing weapons to insurgents.
----- In Maiwand district, a combined Afghan and CF discovered a drug cache, during a routine op, yesterday. The cache consisted of 500-lbs (227 kgs) of poppy seeds.
HELMAND PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor patrol discovered a weapons cache in Marjeh district, today. The cache consisted of 2,640-lbs (1,200 kgs) of ammonium nitrate.
PARWAN PROVINCE -- In Bagram district, a coalition SecFor discovered a cache of unexploded ordinance, while on patrol Nov 8. The cache consisted of 3 105mm projectiles, an anti-personnel mine, and a 62mm mortar round.
GHAZNI PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor patrol discovered a weapons cache in Deh Yak district, today. The cache consisted of 7 mortars, a 40mm high-explosive round, a stick grenade, and a pressure plate.
Navajo Soldiers: Here for Our Country
Story by Spc. Bailey Jester
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE KALSU – In order to honor those with a Native American background, Pres. George H.W. Bush, the 41st pres. of the USA, declared Nov., National American Indian Heritage Month. “My background means a great deal to me,” Ariz. native, Sgt. Larrison Manygoats, said about his Navajo heritage. “It goes back so far; it just means so much to so many people.”
November’s focus is to provide a stage for Native Americans to share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, ways and concepts of life. “I'm unable to dance in as many ceremonies as I would like to, due to the distance and limited amount of leave availability,” said N.M., native, Pfc. Shawn Begay, a medic assigned to Co C, 115th BSB, 1st Bde, 1st Cav Div. “Practices start about 2 weeks before the ceremony, and it isn’t always certain when I'll be home,” Begay added.
With such a wealthy history, many Native Americans know an extensive amount of their heritage, to include their native tongue, dances and chants. “My father and I fluently speak Navajo, along with the older people. The younger ones know little bit here and there, but not as much,” said Manygoats, a truck driver assigned to Co A of the Muleskinner Bn.
A common greeting a Navajo man would welcome you with would be, “Ya’ateeh,” meaning everything is good. Although not everyone has a fluent knowledge of the language, it doesn’t prevent the younger generation from enjoying the dances and chants. “I love to learn and perform the traditional chants,” 19-year-old Begay said. “I also enjoy wearing the traditional clothing when appropriate.”
Not only does traditional dances and chants fall within the customs of the Navajo people, but also ‘lucky charms,’ which Begay carries with him. “My family always told me I was my own good luck charm,” Begay chuckled, “because I was tall and had long feet like a rabbit.”
Although they are a generation apart, they both are proud of their heritage and where they ended up. "I came to fight for the country. I'm not here to gain anything, just to get the war over,” Manygoats said about his deployment and military service. “As the Navajo treaty states, ‘We are for the people. We are for Mother Earth, and we carry on the tradition.’”