10th Mountain Soldiers at FOB Torkham conduct patrol outside the wire
December 6, 2013
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Dec. 6, 2013) -- A platoon of 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Soldiers recently did what is quickly becoming a rare occurrence for many U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan: they went on patrol.
"Patriot" Soldiers with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, left Forward Operating Base Torkham for a dismounted patrol Nov. 18, that took them over some mountains to an Afghan Border Police checkpoint a couple kilometers away near the village of Goloco.
"The purpose was to gain situational awareness, know what's between us and the Goloco village, engage with the officers (and) know what kind of personnel we have over there at the ABP (Afghan Border Police) checkpoint," said Staff Sgt. Curtis Perry, platoon sergeant with 3rd Platoon, C Company.
Such patrols are becoming more uncommon as members of Afghan National Security Forces have taken full control of security operations for their country. But patrols do give Soldiers at Torkham a better understanding of the security elements surrounding their base, helping U.S. troops strengthen relationships with them and advise the Afghans on ways to improve security.
When 3rd Platoon reached the checkpoint, a team set up security around the perimeter, allowing the platoon leader to meet with Afghan elements there.
"The better linked in we are with the ABP, the safer we'll be," said 2nd Lt. Michael Sardinas.
Sardinas learned that the checkpoint serves as a supply staging area for other border police elements in the area near the Afghanistan and Pakistan border. The checkpoint also is used to help keep supplies safe and for coordinating the dissemination of those supplies.
After discussing the checkpoint's mission and capabilities with the ranking ABP officer on duty, Sardinas and the policemen exchanged contact information. He then took photos of the surroundings, documenting terrain features, village proximity and other aspects of the area before he and the Soldiers returned to Torkham.
"Everything we learn helps maintain security, especially for counter-mortar fire," Perry said. "Knowing what's out there prevents friendly or civilian casualties.
"Just knowing that [the ABP] are over there, and how many, and what assets they have, that's always a plus for security as well," he added.
From start to finish, the mission did not take long. But for some, the opportunity to conduct a patrol was something to be appreciated.
"It's great, as an infantryman, to be able to get out there and still interact with people, still be able to go do our job," Perry said.
Some of the younger Soldiers said the ability to still see and experience this aspect of operations will pay dividends far beyond the intelligence gained from the mission itself.
"This is my first deployment," said Spc. Brock Barry, a grenadier with 3rd Platoon. "It's nice to have those skills, where I've actually gone out and conducted dismounted patrols. I'm getting skills gained from doing actual missions in an operational environment that I can then teach. It's nice to have that experience."