Spc. Christopher C. Johnson checks the sights on his M4 rifle during a patrol in Spera District, Khowst province, Afghanistan.Photo by Staff Sgt. John Zumer.
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 30, 2011) — Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces concluded Operation Maiwan III in eastern Afghanistan May 19, 2011.
The operation, conducted May 14-19, in the Spera district of Khowst province, had several goals. In addition to eliminating insurgents and denying them safe havens from which to launch attacks, planners said it was important to show the Afghan population that International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan forces can and will conduct operations anytime, even in remote areas near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.
Soldiers participating in the operation held a pre-mission briefing to set the focus and energy for the operation.
“Everyone must be ready for a fight at all times,” said Lt. Col. Mark Borowski, commander of 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Raider, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
Once begun, the Soldiers of Task Force Raider joined with others from Task Force Duke and Afghan National Security Forces, or ANSF, to attack and disrupt the enemy. The Solders helped drive insurgents from the district so Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Div., Task Force Currahee, in Paktika province, could engage them.
Additionally, the Soldiers helped secure main thoroughfares necessary to help promote local commerce and restrict insurgent travel.
For many Afghans the operation and presence of troops bent on ridding the area of insurgents was a welcome change of pace.
“The people were happy to see ANA (Afghan National Army) and coalition forces here to stay and provide security,” said Afghan National Army Capt. Mahmmad Ayi, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, ANA.
“It was a good and effective operation. We stayed here for four days, and showed the enemy that sanctuaries and safe havens can’t be established here,” Ayi said.
The enemy appeared to get the message, and expected levels of insurgent activity failed to materialize, said Borowski.
“We honestly didn’t see the enemy presence we thought we might see,” said Borowski, adding that a few months ago Spera had been a significant thoroughfare for insurgents traveling across the Pakistan border.
“We thought we’d have large-scale engagements with insurgent forces based on past experience in the area, both during a previous deployment and the previous engagements encountered by [Task Force Rakkasan] when they were here last year,” said Maj. Damon Harris, operations officer of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., Task Force Duke.
According to mission planners the outcome of the operation was a success, despite the low level of insurgent activity. Mission planners said the troops and leadership proved they could sustain operations while continuing to focus elsewhere in Task Force Raider’s area of responsibility, and they gathered reliable intelligence on the enemy.
Perhaps most importantly, however, Operation Maiwan III succeeded on at least two crucial levels; the Soldiers had successful inter-army cooperation and coalition and government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan entities built trust with the local population, said Browski.
“The operation was completely partnered. All the ANA that I saw and heard about performed well, and proved they could sustain themselves out in the field,” said Borowski.
The strong show of force of coalition and ANSF against the enemies of Afghanistan, in such a remote location, sent a strong message, said Harris
Harris said enemy contact was low due to the overwhelming combat power, both ground and air massed in Spera district and Paktika province. Insurgents had little choice but to move south into engagement areas established by Task Force Currahee in Paktika, he said.
Still, there were measurable successes, said Harris. Task Force Duke gathered critical intelligence for use in future operations, and the people in Spera district saw their legitimate government take an interest in outlying population centers, he said.
“It’s important that we come down here and show the people and the enemy that we haven’t forgotten about this place, and that we can and will go where we need to,” said Borowski. “People were very receptive and willing to talk.”
Ayi agreed and said Afghan officials didn’t forget the villagers either.
“Khowst Governor Naeemi came to the Spera district center, and it was good for the people to see him and hear about upcoming projects,” said Ayi.
Harris also felt the importance of the visit couldn’t be overstated.
“I believe the most beneficial event during the operation was the first key leader engagement conducted at the district center that involved the Khowst provincial governor. [It] gave local elders the ability to voice their concerns and what they believe as the way forward in Spera,” he said.
Task Force Raiders will continue assisting the ANA in building a safer and more secure Afghanistan, said Borowski.
“We’re going to go back to focusing on places we had been [in] and focus on whatever missions come down the road,” said Borowski.
Sgt. Ismael Rodriguez, a cavalry scout with Task Force Raider, echoed the sentiment.
“I think the insurgents will realize they’re either going to have to fight us or draw down. We’re not going anywhere,” said Rodriguez.