Fort Drum Soldiers run with local officials, conducts briefing at city hall
June 14, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Nearly two years after their first run together, Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), met June 8 at Watertown's Thompson Park to join city officials and other community staff for a three-mile run and light breakfast before heading to the Watertown City Hall to brief a recap of governance training the brigade received from the city and Syracuse University before their recent deployment to Afghanistan.
The combined run first took place in October 2010, along with training that included many aspects of agriculture, city planning and development. Nearly all of the brigade's battalion- and company-level commanders attended the training, which included lectures, facility tours and group discussions. The Spartan Brigade received the training in preparation for their yearlong deployment to southern Afghanistan from March 2011 to March 2012.
Col. Patrick D. Frank, 3rd BCT commander, said the government training contributed much to the brigade's success in Kandahar Province.
"Of all of the nonlethal training we did before we deployed, company commanders routinely came back and said what we did with the city of Watertown and down in Syracuse -- 'Governance 101,' was the most helpful training," Frank said.
Even before the deployment, brigade staff members used the training to prepare themselves for the daunting task of helping to rebuild an area of Afghanistan known as the "birthplace of the Taliban."
"Being (at the seminars) and seeing all this sort of plants a seed so they start thinking about the kind of stuff we're going to be facing in the near future," said Maj. Jorge Reyes, brigade civil military officer. The training got them "thinking about development, how to run a city, essentially."
The "Governance 101" training paid off. With the training's help and the hard work of Spartan Soldiers and Afghan government officials, great progress was made during the brigade's time in southern Afghanistan.
"When we got there, officially there were only two schools open," said Reyes, who added that no female students attended either school. "When we left, we had 18 schools open with approximately 2,400 students, including 450 girls attending. Four clinics were opened and getting ready to be staffed."
Reyes said that civic accomplishments for the two-district area also included roughly 50 wells being built, animal vaccination clinics conducted by Afghan veterinarians, water management shuras being held, and birthing kits distributed.
To thank the city of Watertown for their ongoing support, Frank presented the city council with an American flag that was flown in Afghanistan; the flag was initially given to the commander before the unit's deployment. Frank also presented a 10th Mountain Division flag and a 3rd BCT flag.
Watertown Police Chief Joseph Goss was thanked for his mentorship to the brigade staff, which included multiple video teleconferences with the brigade's provost marshal and judge advocate in Afghanistan. Goss was presented with the "Shona ba Shona" Medal. The Pashtu phrase means "shoulder to shoulder," which became the brigade's motto during their deployment as they stood "shona ba shona" with the Afghan National Security Forces.