KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class John Shimkus (left), platoon sergeant for the incoming Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team security force from Hope Valley, R.I., and U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Lutkevich, outgoing security force platoon leader from Medford, Mass., participate in a combat patrol in Kandahar City June 25. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen)
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (June 27, 2011) — The Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team began the transition to a new team of Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen with a mounted combat patrol to Sub-District 2 in Kandahar City June 25.
The incoming team takes over for a crew that began operating in Nuristan province last November. The Rockstars of 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment was the security force for the PRT that completed more than 200 missions in four provinces and two regional commands. They will be replaced by a security force made up of the Vikings of 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Lutkevich, the Rockstar platoon leader from Medford, Mass., was on nearly every mission and has high hopes for the incoming crew.
“Although our tour in Afghanistan is coming to a close, I can’t help but feel bittersweet emotions,” said Lutkevich. “I am highly confident the Vikings will not only fill our shoes, but will be able to take the next steps forward.”
It was the first mounted combat patrol for many of the Vikings of the new security force, but they have completed more than two months of pre-deployment training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., as well as months of training at home station in Rhode Island.
“These guys have a lot of good information,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vidal Demedeiros, a Viking squad leader from Lincoln, R.I., speaking of the Rockstars. “We also trained on regular infantry tactics, marksmanship and combat lifesaving skills while back in Rhode Island.”
The mission this day was to deliver solar lighting components to a construction site in Sub-District 2 of Kandahar City. It was the first mounted combat patrol for U.S. Army 1st Lt. Alec Augustine-Marceil, a civil affairs officer for the incoming crew of the Kandahar PRT from Marshall, Wis.
“It felt exceedingly normal,” said Augustine-Marceil. “It is the first time I have been walking around Afghanistan with a cadre of security that is facing a real threat. But with the training I and my team have had, this didn’t feel like anything we hadn’t done before.”
The civil affairs component of the incoming crew is made up of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers of Company C., 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion from Green Bay, Wis.
“Personally, I kind of asked to be a jack of all trades,” said Augustine-Marceil. “I hope I can spend my time on this deployment by facilitating and coordinating with others on the team so they can accomplish their missions.”
The systematic turnover process between the teams is part of a relief in place, transition of authority process that ensures a smooth handover between incoming and outgoing units.
“There are so many people to meet and there are so many relationships established we need to tap into,” said Augustine-Marceil.
The incoming PRT takes over authority in early July.