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TF Spartan perseveres despite challenges

 

Written by U.S. Army Sgt. Albert L. Kelley
300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BastogneFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionNangarhar Province, Afghanistan – Soldiers from Task Force Spartan journeyed to Afghan Border Police outpost Salala with blast wall barriers, pick axes and shovels September 27th to help the ABP fortify their position.

The short 20-kilometer distance took approximately two hours due to lack of roads and unforgiving rocky terrain. Seatbelts were the only thing preventing Soldiers from bouncing off vehicle roofs and each other as they bounced along the landscape.

U.S. Army Soldiers with 1st Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Spartan, help Afghan Border Police load blast wall barriers onto the back of an ABP vehicle Sept. 27th. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Albert L. Kelley, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

U.S. Army Soldiers with 1st Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Spartan, help Afghan Border Police load blast wall barriers onto the back of an ABP vehicle Sept. 27th. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Albert L. Kelley, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“There are no good routes to get to the population,” said U.S. Army Capt. Steven M. Carmichael, of Columbus, GA, company commander with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. “The districts are spread out. Often, this requires longer patrols and more overnight stays.”

After driving as far as they could with the vehicles, the platoon dismounted and trekked the remaining distance on foot, humping all their equipment, including mortar tubes, rounds, food and water up a steep mountain trail.

At the outpost, the Soldiers relentlessly attacked the hard ground with pick axes and shovels in order to fill the blast wall barriers with dirt and rocks.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Dan J. Konopa, of Kokomo, IN, a platoon leader, directs his Soldiers while U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy R. Tetrick, of Glennville, GA, a forward observer, provides security Sept. 27th. Both men are with 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Spartan. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Albert L. Kelley, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)As they worked, the platoon remained vigilant due to the fact that they were within eyesight of the Pakistan border and two villages thought to be under heavy Taliban influence.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Dave Konopa, of Kokomo, Ind., the platoon leader with 1st Platoon, Co. D, 2nd Bn., 327th Inf. Regt., led the men on this patrol and many others like it.

“We are sure (insurgents) come into Afghanistan here and flood into Kunar,” said Konopa. “With additional security, (the ABP) will be able to increase their patrols while feeling safer as well. Also, we will be able to perform larger and longer patrols in the area.”

When dusk approached, the men grabbed a bit of chow, and then prepared for the cool, windy night atop the mountain. Soldiers not on guard duty wrapped themselves in poncho liners, sleeping bags and anything else that could be used to shield themselves from the wind.

U.S. Army Pfc. Timothy J. Jones, of Fort Worth, Texas, a rifleman with 1st platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Spartan, secures concertina wire at an Afghan Border Police Station in the Goshta District here Sept. 28th. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Albert L. Kelley, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)At the crack of dawn, they ate meals ready to eat in shifts before continuing on with their outpost fortification.

After a few hours of side-by-side work with the ABP, the men packed their gear, headed back down the mountain, and began their trip toward home base.

Twice on the return trip, the large mine resistant ambush protected vehicles were stuck. The Soldiers took action quickly by dismounting, hooking up tow bars and pulling or pushing the vehicles free.

After finally arriving home, tired from the journey and limited sleep, the Soldiers still managed to participate in physical training and eat a hot meal before finally getting some much-needed rest.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rashad A. Lewis, of Miami, FL, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Spartan, directs his soldiers as they hook up a tow bar to free a stuck mine resistant ambush protected vehicle Sept. 28th. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Albert L. Kelley, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)The missions may be long, bumpy and dangerous but each time the Soldiers go out, they remind themselves of the importance of what they do and why they do it.

“(We) are trying to ensure that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is represented up there,” said Carmichael. “And that the people see us, the Afghan National Army, the Afghan Border Police and the Afghan National Police working together.”


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