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Historic fort provides protection for base

 

Written by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte
300th Mobile Public Affairs

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionKunar Province, Afghanistan – Most people would expect fortifications at military bases in Afghanistan, but they probably wouldn’t expect an actual fort.

The castle, known as Observation Post Coleman, is believed to be a British fort dating back to the 1800s. It sits on a promontory above Combat Outpost Monti in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province.

U.S. Army Soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, currently occupy the building, which – in peacetime – could easily be a historical tourist site.

U.S. Army Spc. Brian O. Mieszala of Lockport, IL, a grenadier with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, stands on Combat Outpost Monti in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. In the background is Observation Post Coleman, a historical fort that provides over watch for the base. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

U.S. Army Spc. Brian O. Mieszala of Lockport, IL, a grenadier with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, stands on Combat Outpost Monti in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. In the background is Observation Post Coleman, a historical fort that provides over watch for the base. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

U.S. Army Capt. Jeffrey A. Hinds of Richardson, Texas, the company commander, describes its tactical significance in terms of a piece of high ground with 3½-foot-thick walls. But there’s more to it than simple defenses.

“It’s beautiful,” Hinds said. “It’s one of the things that make this (combat outpost) a pleasant place to stay when you’re not getting shot at.”

COP Monti, which is adjacent to the village of Asmar, regularly gets fired on by insurgents and the Soldiers on OP Coleman are normally the first ones to engage the enemy.

“This is basically the early warning and the first defense for the (base),” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Glenn K. Luce of Midwest City, OK, a squad leader.

The interior of the fortress has been retrofitted with electricity, although some of its large rooms go unused except for supply storage. Brickwork and stonework exist side by side in the walls, and old-fashioned shooting loops still line the parapets.

Soldiers spend much of their time on the battlements, which overlook the surrounding valley as well as the surrounding mountains from where the enemy attacks.

The unit rotates squads stationed here on a regular basis, each maintaining a constant watch on behalf of the base below. The vast scenery of farmlands and mountains offers an additional compensation to those who keep vigilance at the historic site.

“It’s a pretty good view up here,” Luce said. “You can see everything.”


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