By Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, Combined Joint Task Force 1 - AfghanistanJuly 25, 2011
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, July 25, 2011 -- Sgt. Jacob D. Carrier is used to finding the bad guys. During his last tour in Iraq, he was on a time-sensitive target team whose sole mission was to get high value targets.
But this isn't Iraq, and now his job is to teach what he's done hundreds of times to his Afghan Uniformed Police, or AUP, counterparts.
AUP from two districts teamed up with Carrier and other soldiers assigned to Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Raider, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Bronco, to clear a village in Kot district in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, July 19, 2011.
Recently, improvised explosive devices have been found in the roads surrounding the village, so they devised a plan to find the culprits.
The operation began as coalition forces cordoned off an area while AUP chief for Kot district, Col. Anam Shaw, went to the local mosque to talk with the village elder before entering houses.
Carrier, a forward observer, explained in order to not upset the locals, they follow certain cultural rules in operations like this.
"As far as the Afghan people, they're used to seeing just the U.S. coming out there, opening the doors to their houses, and going through their stuff," explained Carrier. "They definitely didn't like that before. Now they see it's AUP. They're doing it the legal way with their village elder, and they have the judicial representative and the district subgovernor. It's a lot more organized than it was before."
Shaw said he noticed the difference over the years he has been the police chief in Kot district.
"In the past, when U.S. forces came by themselves, it's disrespectful to the local people," said Shaw. "But when we work together to search their houses, they don't have a problem with it. Afghan culture is very important, especially when there are females in the house. When we work together, we can observe the culture properly."
Capt. Daniel T. Zimmer, Troop C commander, said even the littlest infraction against Afghan culture could have strategic implications. Therefore, every mission they do is a combined effort.
"They know the people. They know how to relate to the people. They're able to direct traffic, and they know which buildings to not go into," explained Zimmer. "They know the area a thousand times better than we do and that will never change. So doing an operation without your partners, the Afghan National Army or the Afghan Uniformed Police, that's really stupid in my book."
As the AUP moved from house to house, Carrier and his Soldiers provided security, took notes and gave advice to their Afghan counterparts.
"If I see them do something wrong, I put that in the back of my head to talk to them about later. I say, 'Hey, maybe you could have done this a little bit better this way or that way,'" explained Carrier. "That's all we're here for now. To make sure that they're doing the right thing so we can drawdown."
Zimmer said that this is the largest operation in the area that his troops have done with the AUP and noted there were almost an equal number of Afghan National Security Forces to coalition forces.
"Every one of our troopers knows the drawdown is looming and so do the Afghans," said Zimmer. "The Afghans that we work with know and understand that we won't always be there. They're thankful for the help that we've been able to provide them, but they feel that they're ready to be able to do this on their own. And I would agree with them in a lot of cases."
On this day, the troops were doing everything right, but they didn't find any weapons or IED materials in the village.
Shaw wasn't discouraged, though.
"My message for people who are putting IEDs or helping the Taliban is: 'Come and join the Afghan government and help do something better for the security of Afghanistan,'" said Shaw. "If they don't join forces with the Afghan government, then we will find these people, arrest them, put them in jail and punish them."