HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghan. - Members of 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division conducted ground defense area patrols as part of their mission as members of Task Force South West to protect the area of operation from enemy operations.

Task Force South-West is a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational organization of advisors who train and advise Afghan security forces.

First Lt. Nicholas Shearin, platoon leader, Company D, 1st Bn., 41st Inf. Reg, explains that success during ground defense area patrols involves planning and preparation.

"Everything we do to get ready for a patrol is part of a planning process," said the Clayton, North Carolina native. "We get a notification of a mission a few weeks out and we start planning the whole operation from start to finish."

As part of the process, Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Arias, platoon sergeant. Company D, 1st Bn., 41st Inf. Reg., assists his platoon leader with preparing the Soldiers for combat operations.

"Before we push out, we make sure to conduct all the necessary rehearsals and check our supplies," said Arias. "We check all our equipment, get a personnel count, maneuver out to the site and interact with the locals we find."

When on mission Arias said he noticed many of the younger Soldiers receive a culture shock when seeing the living conditions of the local people of Afghanistan.

"During our last patrol we found a tent that had a Family of seven people living in it," said Pvt. Theodore Zimmer, medic, Company D,, 1st Bn., 41st Inf. Reg. "Even though they didn't have much of anything, they still offered the whole platoon bread and tea, it meant a lot."

The Carbondale, Colorado native made sure to return the kindness that the Family showed him.

"We saw that they needed medicine so I offered them the Tylenol that we carry with us," explained Zimmer. "For us it's nothing, but to them ... it really helps."

Shearin said he likes to see the positives that come out of the patrols.

"Patrols are vital when it comes to protecting (our area of operation) from external threats like (indirect fire)," he said. "And it's great to see how positive people are with our presence in the area, being here makes the whole area safer."