Afghan soldier clears the way
February 2, 2013
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 5, 2013) -- As the sun sluggishly peaks out from behind the expanse of the Hindu Kush Mountains, it casts an amber glow that is muddied by clouds of dust whisked up from a convoy of eight armoured trucks heading down a dirt road. To the naked eye, the tactical vehicles appear to belong to U.S. forces. It soon becomes clear, however, that it's not an American convoy, but an Afghan National Army convoy. The soldiers are not just driving to Bad Pakh; they are methodically conducting route clearance.
As the convoy approaches Bad Pakh, children scamper out to wave at the vehicles as they enter the village. The ANA soldiers smile and return their waves, but maintain a sharp eye on the road. Everything appears to be routine when a thin wire is spotted by a soldier in the lead vehicle. On cue, the entire convoy stops and everyone gets to work. They expertly put to use the skills they have acquired over months of training with their coalition counterparts.
Once it is determined that an improvised explosive device is at the end of the wire, Capt. Aziz Ulrahman, commander of the route clearance company for 1st Brigade, 201st Corps, submits an IED report.
The 10-line IED report is new to the ANA and it is essential to the continued success of their route clearance operations. The report contains critical information that explosive ordnance disposal technicians need to effectively defuse the explosive device. The report is also important for ANA intelligence analysts.
"It allows their unit to begin to gather and conduct analysis of where IEDs are found and what type. This information is then used for future operations and allows units in the same province or area to have a common operating picture of the enemy threat," said Lt. Col. Hope Rampy, commander of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Currently, the ANA finds and clears 80 percent of the IEDs they encounter, a remarkable rate considering they rely on eye-sight and information gathered from local villagers.
"The ANA route clearance and EOD technicians constantly display excellent tactics and techniques on the ground. Their capabilities continue to progress every day," said ANA advisor Capt. Cullen McPeak, of Combined Joint Task Force-1, Tactical Command Post-1.
Ulrahman's actions with the IED report caught the attention of not only his coalition brethren, but his mentor, Col. Abdulrab Qiam, the ANA Engineer Corps commander.
"Capt. Ulrahman has done a wonderful job and I am proud of him," said Col. Qiam, a native of Kapisa Province.
Qiam, who has been in the ANA for 10 years, knows that this is a significant step for the Afghan engineers. He intends on using Ulrahman's actions as an example to other brigades of the army's 201st Corps.
To help in using Ulrahman as an exemplar, Rampy tried to present him with a certificate of recognition at a ceremony attended by his peers. Ulrahman, however, was
unavailable. He was out training with his unit. Qiam accepted the certificate for him for a later presentation.