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Task Force Red Currahee turns up heat in Paktika Province

 

Written by U. S. Army Spc. Luther L. Boothe Jr.
Task Force Currahee Public Affairs

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionCurraheePaktika Province, Afghanistan – Soldiers from Task Force Red Currahee completed their third air assault this week throughout the village of Shakhmodkhel December 22nd in an attempt to disrupt and deny enemy combatants the ability to develop safe havens during Operation Steel Sky.

Before the sunrise, nearly 200 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division waited in the cold for the helicopters to transport them. They were prepared to react to intelligence reports of enemy activity in the area, though it is typical of anti-coalition militants to retreat to safe havens during the winter months. 

A Soldier from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division kneels in an over-watch position on top of a qualot wall during Operation Steel Sky, an air assault mission near the village of Shakhmodkhel Dec. 21st. (Photo by Spc. Luther L. Boothe Jr., Task Force Currahee Public Affairs Office)

A Soldier from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division kneels in an over-watch position on top of a qualot wall during Operation Steel Sky, an air assault mission near the village of Shakhmodkhel Dec. 21st. (Photo by Spc. Luther L. Boothe Jr., Task Force Currahee Public Affairs Office)

“Even though the enemy tends to have less activity during the winter months, we wanted to send a message to the people that coalition and (Afghan National Security Forces) will be there to support them winter, summer, spring or fall,” said U.S. Army Capt. Todd M. Tompkins of Willoughby, OH, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, TF Red Currahee.

“As Soldiers, we can’t afford to take breaks,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Charles R. Judd of Clarksville, Tennessee, TF Red Currahee command sergeant major. “It is our job to follow up on any intelligence information that we receive, analyze it and then put together a mission to action on it. We have to demonstrate to the enemy combatants that they are not going to have an easy time if they want to move around within the Paktika Province.”

When the helicopters landed, the Soldiers quickly moved onto the objective, secured the area and began a thorough search of the village in hopes of finding and detaining enemy combatants. The enemy had fled, but the TF Red Currahee Soldiers uncovered evidence of their presence.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. David B. Womack of Roanoke, VA, commander of TF Red Currahee, said the enemy likes to exploit certain areas and use them as safe havens. “We are trying to disrupt that.”

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Hamblen, a terminal air control party member with the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron attached to Task Force Currahee, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division talks to Afghan children near the village of Shakhmodkhel during Operation Steel Sky Dec. 21st. (Photo by Spc. Luther L. Boothe Jr., Task Force Currahee Public Affairs Office)“We know (the enemy has) been here and they are certainly going to know that we have been here after we are gone,” said Womack.

The mission yielded a rocket-propelled grenade warhead, potential improvised explosive device-making materials and other weapons.

“Coalition forces had not been in or near this village in over a year,” Tompkins said. “This village is located in a strategic transit route for the enemy, so when we show up it disrupts their normal pattern of life and disrupts them from using the village as a safe haven.”

Though this mission did not result in death or capture of insurgents or large caches TF Red Currahee still sent a message to the enemy.

“We are always watching, we will track their movements and will continue to come after them to ensure that they don’t have an easy time of disrupting the lives of the great people in this province,” said Judd. “We are here to work with the ANSF to provide the people of Afghanistan the security needed in order for them to prosper and we will continue to action any information that we get to make certain that we disrupt the enemies’ progress in this (area of operations).”

Success for the Currahees is not measured by the number of enemy combatants killed or captured, but instead they understand the importance of their presence in the village and seized the opportunity to interact with the local populace.

Tompkins explained the goal of the mission isn’t always to get into a fight with the bad guys. “A measure of success is just getting out here, interacting with the people and making a positive impression.”

U.S. Army Capt. Todd M. Tompkins, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division maintains radio communications with the other elements of his company during Operation Steel Sky, an air assault mission near the village of Shakhmodkhel Dec. 21st. (Photo by Spc. Luther L. Boothe Jr., Task Force Currahee Public Affairs Office)Judd agreed. “Our successes are not based entirely off making contact with the enemy,” he said. “When we go to the villages, we are demonstrating to the enemy that we are not going to allow them to have safe havens throughout Paktika. We will continue to seek them out and work hard to eliminate the threat that they create to these fine people.”

“Often, they don’t know our mission or how we and GIRoA can help them,” Judd said. “If we don’t get out there and meet the people and reassure them that we care, then all they will know is the Taliban propaganda and we can’t allow that to happen, for the sake of the people.”

Tompkins said it’s always good to reinforce to the local Afghans the fact that coalition forces care and are there to help. Two on-the-spot shuras helped drive that point home.

“We let them know that we will continue to work with GIRoA and to help them get an answer to their needs,” said Judd.

“I’d like to start with education,” Womack said to the crowd of men that had gathered from the village. “Let’s start talking about it at the Yousef Khel shura.  Let’s start with something extremely important to us both.”

“This is a good first step for us, I’d like you to come to Yousef Khel and have a better relationship.”


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