Sgt. Mark A. Moore II
2nd Security Forces Assistance Brigade Journalist
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghani-stan – At first glance, the Kushamond District of Pakitika Province, Afghanistan, seems like quiet farm land, rippled with rolling hills and small quaint villages speckled with adobe homes.
Villages named Fazilra, Hamalman, Panagir and Choray link this area of Kushamond together. Far-mers cultivating crops, children playing soccer and women tending to daily chores are common scenes.
This is their life, their land and their home.
But beyond the old-world charm of these small villages lies something far less serene, far less humane. Residents of these villages are cloaked in oppression and fear enforced by enemies of Afghanistan.
“The enemies of Afghanistan come into the villages and take people’s homes, their food and make the villagers work for them,” said Afghan National Army Capt. Noor Rahman, commander of 2nd Tolei, 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 203rd Corps. “We will no longer tolerate this; we will not stop until our enemies are dead, defeated or we drive them out.”
Waiting to turn Rahman’s words into actions, ANA soldiers assigned to 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 203rd Corps, partnered with U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Green 1 Security Force Advisory Team, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, both stationed at ANA Base, Khair Kot Garrison, staged outside of the Kushamond District Center ready to conduct a two-day clearing operation.
Moments after sunrise, they dispersed into three groups to cordon off the villages. Dismounting their vehicles, the ANA soldiers took the lead. U.S. Army advisers followed closely behind as their partners cleared from house to house.
“From a Security Force Advisory Team’s prospective, this mission was a complete success,” said 1st Lt. Brian Maginn, a forward support officer assigned to Green 1 SFAT. “The ANA developed the plan with almost no involvement from us.”
Leaving only a small element behind to establish an ambush, the small group of ANA and U.S. Soldiers dug in and waited for first light to strike.
“It was part of a feint,” Maginn said. “We wanted to see how the enemy moved – observe their (infiltration) and (exfiltration) routes to these towns.”
The following morning proved to be more difficult. Afghan and U.S. Soldiers navigated through heavy machine gun fire, mortar rounds and improvised explosive devices. The ANA soldiers fought forward, overwhelming the enemy with superior fire power and maneuverability on the battlefield.
“The ambush was set for the morning,” Rahman said. “The Taliban shot at us, but we pushed forward and drove them out.”
The complexity of the attack came as a surprise to both ANA and U.S. Soldiers.
“This was the most coordinated enemy activity I have seen at one time,” Maginn said. “The ANA can fight and win in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. We hope this operation shows the ANA what influence they can have in the area.”
For many of these ANA soldiers, the influence they wish to have is of peace – peace for their fellow Afghans, for themselves and for their country.
“Everyone likes peace, but the Taliban does not want peace,” Rahman said. “The enemies of Afghanistan don’t respect our culture; they kill innocent people for no reason. What about the women and children they kill? We wear the uniform; they don’t.”