U.S. Army Spc. David Nordyke and an Afghan National Army soldier secure the area around an improvised explosive device site in Zormat District, Afghanistan. Photo by U.S. Army 1st Lt. Joel Sage.
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 18, 2011) — With tips from local villagers, U.S. and Afghan forces in Zormat District, Afghanistan, eliminated many weapons caches May 5-9.
Soldiers from the Afghan National Army and Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Lethal, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, found 11 rocket-propelled grenades, about 1,000 rounds of varying calibers, two confirmed improvised explosive devices and various other munitions and weapons in the five-day period.
Soldiers found the caches after villagers tipped off the military on the whereabouts of the weapons as part of the Government of Republic of Afghanistan sponsored Guardians of Peace program, which rewards Afghans who come forward with information leading to the capture of insurgents or illegal weapons.
The U.S. Soldiers said the work they’ve been doing to form relationships with the people living in their area of operations led to the increase in amount and quality of the tips received.
“A lot of it has to do with what we did over the winter,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Jenkins of Westminster, Md., an intelligence analyst with Co. C. “We went out and made friends with the locals.”
In one instance, while at a local Madrassa, the Soldiers received a tip that insurgents buried an improvised explosive device near a clinic in Sadar Kheyl Village.
“This happens quite a bit,” added U.S. Army Spc. Tyler Malom, of Polk City, Iowa, a rifleman in Co. C’s 1st Platoon. “We’ll be out on patrol and somebody will come and tip us off about something in the road.”
In another instance, the ANA platoon leader, Lt. Pallawan, received a phone call about another suspected IED.
Pallawan and his men investigated the site and found a sack with five mortar rounds, which they brought back to their combat outpost to be destroyed.
“The fact that the ANA were able to gather intelligence and act on it without the support of coalition forces shows their growth as a (company),” remarked U.S. Army Capt. Michael Minard of Bettendorf, Iowa, the commander of Co. C.
“The people are really beginning to trust us,” said Pallawan. “You can tell this is true not only because of the number of tips we receive, but also by the way we are received in the villages.”