LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Afghan National Army 2nd Lt. Pakita Zaher, commander of Headquarters Company, 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 203rd ANA corps, talks to the village elder in Argan during a partnered operation including ANA, U.S. and Czech Republic soldiers in Charkh District, Logar Province, Afghanistan, July 14. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Brian P. Glass)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (July 26, 2011) — Afghan National Army soldiers partnered with Czech Republic and U.S. soldiers for a two-day mission in the Charkh District of Logar Province, July 13-14.
Soldiers from Company D, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment’s Task Force Storm, composed the U.S. contingent. Charkh district had been busy with insurgent activity, so the soldiers knew what to expect going into the mission.
“The goal for the operation was to conduct a movement to contract, clear known (Named Areas of Interest) interrogate some possible cache sites and engage the population in an area that coalition forces do not frequent,” said U.S. Army Capt. Morgan Maier, commander of Co. D and native of Meadow Vista, Calif.
ANA Soldiers helped coalition forces by talking to villagers and clearing houses in Qal’a-i-Amruddin and Argan. ANA 2nd Lt. Pakita Zaher of Headquarters Company, 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 203rd ANA corps, said his men were ready for the tough mission because of past experience.
“All of my Soldiers have a lot of experience with searching houses and talking to people. Between my sergeant and my battalion commander, they have a lot of experience,” said Zaher. “When we went into the village (Argon), all of the ANA (soldiers) knew who were the bad guys, and who we needed to talk to get information. They said, ‘I see no one, there is no Taliban.’”
Having to work around obstacles is nothing new for Maier and his soldiers. Knowing what to ask to get the right answers helps in keeping villagers and his people safe.
“Typically in most villages that I have gone into … they will mention that everyone is a farmer and that nothing is going on in the village,” said Maier. “In some cases, I think it is fear of reprisals; they think if they say something, the Taliban are going to come and kill them in the night. It’s pretty common. They speak in metaphors a lot, using analogies, and you have to read through them.”
With some locals living in fear, Zaher said they were relieved with the work of ANA and coalition forces when it came to searching houses and treating the local people with respect.
“The villagers are happy and talk to us when they see we are the ones leading mission(s),” said Zaher. “When we were searching today, the civilians said we are their brothers; you can come in and search our houses.
“When we searched the house, the U.S. and ANA (soldiers) worked together, which was good for the villagers to see,” continued Zaher.
Maier said he was pleased with the efforts of all the forces involved during the mission - the ANA, the Czechs and his own Soldiers.
“From an ANA standpoint, the mission was a success because we were partnered. There are certain things that occurred during the mission that hadn’t really successfully occurred before now,” said Maier. “We partnered platoon for platoon.”
Maier said he thought his Soldiers performed well during the partnered mission. Given their vast experience operating within Logar province, Co. D Soldiers’ adeptness should come as no surprise.
“Delta Company is the only company in this battalion that has fought in every battle space in each of the four districts - Baraki Barak, Charkh, Kharwar and Azra - so they are pretty proficient about knowing what they need to do.
“We’re also really pleased with the combined effort between us and the Czechs,” continued Maier. “I think, in Afghanistan, we have a really good working relationship when we go out on operations.”
Maier said he came away from the mission knowing the operation pushed the ANA farther along the road to being successful in taking the lead and securing Afghanistan for the long term.
“A lot of what we were trying to do is build (Afghan National Security Forces) capacity, so you can build the army and just little things like teaching them little steps so they can stand on their own,” said Maier.