• U.S. Soldiers and their Afghan counterparts gather at a patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers, assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, participated in a two-day operation to deter insurgents and clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers and their Afghan counterparts gather at a patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers, assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and their Afghan National Army counterparts, gather at a hasty patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and their Afghan National Army counterparts, gather at a hasty patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province...

  • U.S. Soldiers assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division provide security for a hasty patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers participated in a two-day operation to deter insurgents and clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division provide security for a hasty patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division prepare to set up a patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers participated in a two-day operation to deter insurgents and clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division prepare to set up a patrol base in the Registan Desert in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers...

  • A U.S. Soldier searches cargo being carried by a camel while on patrol with Afghan counterparts in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers were assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    A U.S. Soldier searches cargo being carried by a camel while on patrol with Afghan counterparts in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers were assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry...

  • An Afghan soldier gives a young child banana chips  while on patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    An Afghan soldier gives a young child banana chips while on patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

  • A U.S. Soldier, right, with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), provides security as members of the Afghan National Army search for weapons caches at a village near Komandek Ghar in the Panjwa'i district of Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers and their Afghan National Army counterparts participated in a two-day clearing mission of the Komandek Ghar area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    A U.S. Soldier, right, with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), provides security as members of the Afghan National Army search for weapons caches at...

  • A U.S. Soldier, left, provides security as his Afghan counterparts search for weapons caches in a village near Komandek Ghar in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and their Afghan National Army counterparts participated in the two-day mission to clear the area of explosives.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    A U.S. Soldier, left, provides security as his Afghan counterparts search for weapons caches in a village near Komandek Ghar in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion...

  • U.S. Soldiers provide security for a village while it is searched by their counterparts and members of the Afghan National Army during a mission in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers, with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, participated in the two-day operation to clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers provide security for a village while it is searched by their counterparts and members of the Afghan National Army during a mission in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers, with Charlie...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Vento with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), walks toward villages that are a part of his company's clearing operation in the Panjwa'i district of Afghanistan, April 10. 2013. The Soldiers and their Afghan National Army counterparts participated in a two-day clearing mission of the Komandek Ghar area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Vento with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), walks toward villages that are a part of his company's clearing operation in the...

  • U.S. Army Pfc. Ivan Ibarra, left, and Pfc. Alfredo Hidalgo, both assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), provide security, armed with their M249 light machine guns during a clearing operation of the Komandek Ghar area in the Panjwa'i district of Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Army Pfc. Ivan Ibarra, left, and Pfc. Alfredo Hidalgo, both assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), provide security, armed with their...

  • U.S. Army Capt. Ralph Parlin, right, the commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, relays information to his company while an Afghan lieutenant speaks to his unit during a patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. U.S. and Afghan soldiers participated in a two-day mission to clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Army Capt. Ralph Parlin, right, the commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, relays information to his company while an Afghan lieutenant speaks to his unit during a...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Brittan, with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), carries a bag across the Tarnak River with their Afghan National Army counterparts in the Panjwa'i district of Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers participated in a two-day clearing mission of the Komandek Ghar area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Brittan, with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), carries a bag across the Tarnak River with their Afghan National Army...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division cross the Tarnak river with their Afghan National Army counterparts while on patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division cross the Tarnak river with their Afghan National Army counterparts while on patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. Travis Webb, right, helps Spc. Steven Andreini climb out of the Tarnak river after crossing it during a patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. Both Soldiers, with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, participated in a two-day mission with their Afghan National Army counterparts to clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Army Sgt. Travis Webb, right, helps Spc. Steven Andreini climb out of the Tarnak river after crossing it during a patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. Both Soldiers, with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), carry mission essential equipment across the Tarnak River in the Panjwa'i district of Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers and their Afghan National Army counterparts participated in a two-day clearing mission of the Komandek Ghar area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division), carry mission essential equipment across the Tarnak River in the Panjwa'i district of...

  • U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division cross the Tarnak river in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers and their Afghan National Army counterparts participated in a two-day mission to clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division cross the Tarnak river in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 10, 2013. The Soldiers and their Afghan...

  • A U.S. Soldier is silhouetted against the sun as he drinks water before beginning the second day of a two-day operation near Komandek Ghar in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 11, 2013. U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division participated in Operation Viper Strike to clear the area of explosives caches.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth/Released)

    Chaos Company strikes back with Operation Viper Strike

    A U.S. Soldier is silhouetted against the sun as he drinks water before beginning the second day of a two-day operation near Komandek Ghar in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 11, 2013. U.S. Soldiers with Charlie Company...

COMBAT OUTPOST KHENJAKAK, Afghanistan - Approximately three United States Army platoons from Company C "Chaos," 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2, and three platoons from 1st Company, 6th Kandak, 205th Afghan National Army Corps participated in a two-day clearing mission of the Komandek Ghar area in the Panjwa'i district of Afghanistan, April 10-11.

The purpose of the mission, titled "Operation Viper Strike," was to identify and exploit explosives caches and put pressure on the Taliban's distribution system, said Capt. Ralph Parlin, C Company's commander.

It covered approximately nine to 12 miles of desert in an isolated area that is difficult to get to by Afghan National Security Forces and International Security Assistance Forces due to being isolated by the Tarnak River.

A week before Operation Viper Strike, C Company interdicted a vehicle travellng toward Komandek Ghar, a key terrain feature in the area, from the south. The vehicle was transporting 2,100 pounds of processed hashish worth an estimated $440,748 and a net worth of $10 million, said Parlin.

They also caught several key high value individuals in the Taliban drug distribution system. The area the vehicle was headed is populated by nomadic people known as Kuchi tribes who live in "Kuchi camps." The structures they live in vary from mud huts to tarps strewn over sticks.

These people travel to find grasslands for their animals, but return to the camps, said Parlin.

Early the morning of April 10, U.S scouts assaulted on top of the mountain that oversees the Kuchi camps and set up an observation point overlooking the villages that the platoons would be searching. Meanwhile, the soldiers of 3rd Platoon and 2nd Platoon mounted up in their Stryker vehicles and met up with their ANA partners.

Soldiers of 3rd Platoon met their first challenge of crossing the Tarnak River.

Earlier in the day, the depth of the river was estimated at shin-high, but due to recent rainstorms, it had risen to waist high and continued to rise. Third Platoon and their Afghan partners had to quickly cross and could only take the most mission essential items with them, to include food, water, radios, and batteries.

Once the U.S. and Afghan soldiers moved their equipment to the other side of the river, they reevaluated their plan and began a daylong clearing process. The ANA led the way into the camps and interacted with the locals who lived there. First Lt. Francis Igo, the platoon leader of 3rd Platoon, and his soldiers followed behind.

"As our partners, it's their country; they're the face of the people," said Igo. "People are more willing to talk to them and give information."

Igo said his ANA counterparts are effective and efficient at searching structures for possible caches.

"They know what belongs and what doesn't belong because it's their culture," Igo said.

U.S. soldiers asked the villagers if any outside people had come through the area and found that numerous tractors and other vehicles had been seen passing through. After searching several camps, 3rd Platoon and the scouts set up a hasty patrol base in the Registan Desert.

Early the next morning, they set out again and cleared the south side of the mountain.

Meanwhile, 2nd Platoon continued to clear the north side.
When 3rd Platoon and the ANA made it back to the Tarnak River, the water was chest high.

Like a scene out of Vietnam, the men crossed the river holding their weapons over their heads and fighting against the current.
As the mission came to an end, even thought they didn't find caches, they learned valuable information about the system of distribution of non-malicious material and also how the Taliban is exploiting and taking advantage of the existing Kuchi distribution system, said Parlin.

Parlin added that the U.S. and ANA presence in the remote region would have big impacts on the rest of the enemy's efforts moving things into the area.

"It will present obstacles for the enemy's [exfiltration] of opium and hashish in support of next year's fighting season," said Parlin.

Page last updated Mon April 22nd, 2013 at 00:00