Written by 1st Lt. R.J. Peek Company D, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment
Paktika Province, Afghanistan – Teamwork and communication are essential elements of achieving success on the battlefield. For one Vermont National Guard unit, that means partnering with Macedonian Rangers.
Soldiers from Company D, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment, currently attached to the Iron Rakkasans of the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regimentare partnering with a small contingent of Macedonia Rangers in support of International Security Assistance Force efforts to combat insurgency and support the Afghan government.
The two units share everything from the buildings they sleep in, the security responsibilities of the guard towers, intelligence gathering, and the operational tasks and challenges of every mission.Capt. Scott Langlands, commanding officer, Company D, 3rd Bn., 172nd Infantry Regiment from Wrentham, MA, and Macedonian Capt. Borce Toturov, commander of the Macedonian Rangers, work together in their shared facilities to plan and execute their operations.
Each element brings its own background and training experience to the fight. Their partnership allows them to share knowledge with each other and benefit from the respected strengths of each.
“We have found that neither element is better or worse, we just have different ways of approaching various situations,” said Toturov. “These diversified perspectives allow each of us to expand our analysis, and together we are able to come up with an even better solution than either of us could have made independently.”
“Each group of forces understands these differences and is willing to make the required compromises needed to be successful,” said Langlands.
The unorthodox team combination has created challenges for leaders at all levels, but the exceptional teamwork between the two forces has resulted in several big successes.
One such success happened during a recent joint operation in the Sar Hawza District, Paktika Province.
“During the operation, the Macedonians took the lead on sniper teams and overwatch positions in Sar Hawza,” said Langlands. “They have an excellent understanding of sniper employment and dismounted operations. This allowed Delta Company the ability to maneuver in mountainous terrain to provide forward observers.”
The operation netted a large amount of ammunition from a home on the eastern side of Sar Hawza village.
In addition to locating the weapons cache, the Macedonian soldiers also took the opportunity to make a positive influence on the village residents by assisting the local police in passing out radios, calendars, pens and soccer balls.
“We took this opportunity to talk with the people,” said Jafar Khan, Afghan Uniformed Police commander. “We brought them some things to make their lives better, especially the radios for the adults and toys for the kids.”
By working together, both forces implemented their individual skill sets and helped to ensure a successful mission and enhance the security of the people of Sar Hawza.