Aiding Local Villages
July 13, 2010
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan - The villages outside of Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan receive aid from Task Force Eagle Assault and coalition partners in several ways.
The reason for providing aid to these villages is to strengthen the desire for a stable government while boosting their economy and living conditions.
With the assistance of Lithuanian and Afghan forces, TF Eagle Assault conducted a medical seminar June 1 at the Surri Bazaar in Zabul province, Afghanistan.
The purpose of the medical seminar was to educate local nationals from the surrounding villages about medical skills to stop the contraction and spread of diseases.
Capt. Damien Barrineau, TF Eagle Assault physician assistant, taught the villagers the safest way to store food, wash dishes and properly dispose of waste.
He advised them on how to avoid and treat animal and insect bites, sanitize drinking water and care for injuries such as burns, broken bones and abrasions.
Simple ailments such as viruses and infections can threaten the lives of the local population, said Maj. Charles Rambo, TF Eagle Assault operations officer.
The goal was to get as many men as possible from different villages to attend so they would take back what they learned to teach the rest of their people, said Barrineau.
Approximately 40 men attended the seminar.
Staff Sgt. Candice Smith, a female engagement team leader with Operational Detachment Alpha 1233, requested the men's permission to speak with the women of their village, inviting them to a female only medical seminar the following day.
The men were hesitant to agree right away, but approximately 20 local women attended the female medical seminar at the Bazaar's new medical facility. They came to receive medical treatment by the U.S. armed forces and stayed for the seminar on disease prevention.
Women are typically the primary caregivers, said Smith. Educating the women makes the mission more successful.
The medical seminar was successful in training the local population to medically sustain themselves, which is part of the overall mission in Afghanistan.
"With the medical seminars and medical training, we are able to go out into the community and provide training to the local nationals and their medical providers," said Rambo, "which assists them in taking care of their own people."
F Company, Task Force Eagle Assault Pathfinders escorted Barrineau to the medical seminar and assisted in escorting local and military medical providers to the new local medical clinic at the Surri Bazaar.
There, the local medical providers were able to discuss the progress of their medical treatment and their desires to advance their capabilities.
Mosquito nets, candles, hygiene and medical supplies were given to the villagers who attended the medical seminar, said Barrineau.
After the medical seminar, the Lithuanian special forces conducted a local "shura," which is a meeting or council, with the village elders to inquire about their medical and environmental needs.
Their main concern was having an unstable water supply, said Barrineau.
Task Force Eagle Assault is already assisting the villagers of Bowragay, Afghanistan in maintaining their source of water.
Running under FOB Wolverine are underground aqueducts called "karezes," which were built by a civilization before the Afghan people dating back more than a thousand years, said Capt. Stacy Pennington, E Company, TF Eagle Assault's commanding officer.
There are 13 karez holes between 30 to 80 feet deep spread throughout the FOB.
"For safety reasons, we need to have them capped off," said Pennington.
Protecting the karez is important to the Bowragay people because it sustains life there.
"Somewhere between 500 to 700 people rely on this water source for their drinking water and for all of their agriculture," said Pennington. "It is very important to their village that they are able to maintain this water source."
The karez is a stream fed water supply system which is less stable than a water well because it is very dependent on the weather. This year the area received less snow, therefore the water supply is less than usual.
"They are getting maybe 50 percent less water out of their karezes as they did last year," said Pennington. "It's jeopardizing their ability to plant a second wheat harvest."
The construction of these protective casings will allow for their water to flow freely as well as stimulate their economy.
"In addition to making sure that their water supply is safe, we have also been able to create jobs," said Pennington.
The FOB is managed by TF Eagle Assault, who is responsible for contracting and paying local employees.
"Word spread throughout the community that the Army is taking care of them," said Callum. "Which brought us more workers."
Along with assisting these villagers to protect their water supply and contributing to their prosperity, they are making allies around FOB Wolverine.
It helps with the protection of the FOB because their village is so close, said Pennington. Therefore, it is important to keep good relations with them
It also gives the Soldiers of TF Eagle Assault an opportunity to work with the locals.
"It's a great experience for the Soldiers to work with someone in their position," said Callum. "Someone who has the courage to work for us despite the adversities."
This new casing around the karez opening prevents debris build up and assists with cleaning the water ways more frequently.
If just one collapses, the water supply downstream no longer exists, said Pennington. They wouldn't have any water at all.
The first phase of constructing concrete casings is almost complete, said 1st Sgt. Otis Rodriguez, E Co. noncommissioned officer in charge. The next phase will be to place metal doors on top of the concrete to secure the karez.
"Our Soldiers will be constructing and installing the metal caps," said Pennington.
E Co. Soldiers have the skill and materials available to aid the villagers in securing the karezes.
"We have welders and metal workers who are going to help with that," said Pennington.
Another way to provide these villagers with a stabilized water supply would be to get them a well water system which would feed off of the deeper water tables.
There are three water tables, the stream fed one that services the karez and two which are located beneath the Earth's surface at 500 and 1200 feet.
"I'm working with the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) to help them tap into that local water well," said Pennington. "That way, they will have more water for their crops."
The PRT is a team designed to help reconstruct health and social projects in their given province to improve the lives of their citizens.
The PRT of Zabul has recently finished schools, hospitals, wells and bridges throughout the province.
Until that well is in place, TF Eagle Assault is doing what they can to supply the locals with a better life.