URUZGAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- The U.S. Army's 288th Sapper Company out of Houston, Miss., completed its first partnered mission with the Afghan National Army out of Forward Operating Base Tarin Kowt, May 16.

The partnered missions are in effort to help the ANA take the lead in operations in Afghanistan.

Second platoon was tasked with the pioneer mission, which marks a new direction for the company. These partnered missions will allow the ANA the opportunity to take what they have learned in training and apply it to the actual mission.

The ANA 4/205th trained with the 288th Sapper Company soldiers on techniques such as clearing procedures, dismounting and combat life saver classes to help lead them to success. The hard training proved vital as the two companies partnered and successfully completed their first mission.

"The mission went very well, I was expecting them to have trouble with their vehicles or coming late, but everything went well and we were able SP [starting point] early," said Sgt. 1st Class William Reeves, 2nd platoon sergeant.

"I was really pleased with the mission, we all fell in together; it was like we'd all trained together [for longer than a few months]," said Master Sgt. James Scarborough, 3rd Platoon, platoon sergeant, ANA training platoon.

Although, the ANA did not lead the mission, the 288th allowed them to play an important role in helping to clear part of the routes. They were able to dismount and help pull security for the soldiers, especially in areas that are coded as high risk.

"Right now they are only doing dismounts to help with security and locate command wire and cache sites, later on we hope to incorporate them into the actual route clearance role. They know the area better than we do, so they can tell us if someone is acting strange or not or if the area looks different," said Reeves.

The successful mission did not come without its own trials for the National Guard unit. The company invested countless hours into training the ANA to ensure they were capable of helping to fulfill the mission. Being from two different cultures proved to be a challenge, but they were able to overcome.

"It was a lot of hard work, language barriers even with terps (interpreters), it's hard to get your point across ," said Scarborough, "We learned you can't train them like we do American troops, you have to slow everything down for them."

This day helped to break the ground for many missions in the near future. With the continued training of the ANA forces and embeds into the 288th's route clearance patrols, the Afghan's will be ready to take the reins and soon lead the patrols.

"We look forward to working with them, they're a good bunch of guys, and they're really interested in learning," said Scarborough.

Page last updated Tue June 12th, 2012 at 08:26