Bayonet Soldiers climb to new heights
April 20, 2011
- Soldiers with C Company, 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
COMBAT OUTPOST GHORMACH, Afghanistan- Within the steep hills surrounding Ghormach are dug-in bunker systems often manned by insurgent fighters watching and waiting to spring an attack on ISAF Soldiers during daily patrols.
Although artillerymen by trade, Soldiers with C Battery, 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team experience not only how physically demanding the assaults up the hills can be, but also the potential dangers awaiting at their peaks.
"When we first joined the Army we trained on infantry tactics and then we went into our job specialties. Here in Ghormach, we are revisiting what we initially trained on and learning how to perfect it in this environment," said Spc. Andrew Bowen, a Minden, Iowa native, now a field artilleryman with 2nd Platoon, C Battery.
"It's interesting, when you think about artillery you're not looking at your enemy when you kill them, but now in this infantry role we literally see our enemy while we're shooting during a fire fight," Staff Sgt. Warees Kee, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, now a 2nd Platoon section chief.
C Battery has three platoons conducting daily patrols. The biggest obstacle "Cold Steel" Soldiers face as a dismounted force is becoming acclimated to the area's mountainous terrain while staying attentive to enemy threats, said Kee.
"The enemy waits to attack at our most disadvantaged point. They know they cannot beat us in an all out fight," said 1st Lt. Alexander Rhoads, a Washington native, now the platoon leader with 3rd Platoon, C Company.
With hills ranging up-to 2,100 feet, Soldiers' lungs have to adjust to the higher elevation, because the higher up the Soldiers go, their lungs begin to operate differently, said Kee.
Many insurgents wear light clothing allowing them to quickly reach their fighting positions in the hills. This gives artillerymen, who maneuver with body armor, weapons, extra ammunition or medical packs, a greater demand for physical fitness.
Cold Steel artillerymen also work alongside Afghan Uniformed Policemen whose security checkpoints are nested directly atop the elevated terrain. Many missions involve Soldiers taking long treks up to the checkpoints to continue their positive working relationship with their Afghan counterparts.
"Regardless of how far the distance we have to travel, we want the Afghan forces to know that we are fighting against a common enemy, and will continue to complete our mission despite the difficulties," said Rhodes.
Enemy combatants have engaged C Battery Soldiers in calculated fire fights during patrols the past few weeks. But with continual training and hard-earned experience, Cold Steel Soldiers are becoming more and more adapted to the Ghormach battlefield as they continue to conduct daily missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.