By Spc. Matthew Thompson, 5th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentAugust 2, 2009
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Company A Soldiers with 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, had a two-fold mission, July 25, gather information from local Afghan citizens and provide a presence in the area to prevent attacks from insurgents outside Forward Operating Base Shank.
In March, the company consisting of truckers, fuel specialists and water purification specialists switched roles from running convoys up to Bagram Air Field to going on patrols and interacting with locals.
"Our biggest challenge was changing our mindset from convoys to doing the patrols," said Staff Sgt. Fred Crose, platoon sergeant, Co. A, "We're the first BSB to do this."
The trucks rolled to a stop outside a small village five kilometers from FOB Shank and the Soldiers quickly dismounted.
On foot, they spread out and searched the area for anything that may have indicated that insurgents had been in the area.
"We're protecting the villages and the good people in the area," said 1st Lt. Alicia Morrison, the platoon leader. "Overall it's a sweet mission to improve the life of the people in this area and on the FOB."
While on patrol, the platoon also tries to include counter-insurgency techniques, which help to build trust with the locals according to Morrison.
"When they see us out here they know we're protecting them also," Morrison added. "When we came out here the other day, a man approached us and informed us of an improvised explosive device. Not only were we able to locate the IED, but we also caught the trigger man."
With the change of missions came another set of challenges and expectations; interacting with Afghan citizens.
The unit came up with the idea of a climate survey to gauge how the locals felt and if they knew about the International Security Assistance Forces in their area.
"Most people know that ISAF is here to help," Morrison said.
"Hopefully, some of them are sleeping better at night," added Crose.