By Courtesy StorySeptember 7, 2011
WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- As part of a realignment of forces to effectively quell enemy activity, Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division are transitioning to Combat Outpost Dash Towp.
The force realignment directly affects three 4th BCT battalions - including 5-25 FA Task Force Thunder soldiers, Afghan National Security Forces and coalition soldiers from at least two countries. Putting such a movement into motion can be complicated, and moving an entire battalion is never as easy as just moving people from one place to another.
"It was around the end of July when we found out we were coming out here. The immediate action at that point was to begin planning with a heavy emphasis on the logistical piece," said U.S. Army Capt. Frank Adams, TF Thunder fires support officer and native of Torrance, Calif. "Ultimately, you're moving a task force, but subsequently you have to take into account the fact that when we transfer authority to the incoming unit that is replacing us, we also have to set conditions for them to come in here."
Once TF Thunder soldiers arrived on COP Dash Towp, they began preparing the outpost to better conduct operations. U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Akerstrom, automations and communications team leader for 94th Brigade Support Battalion, Task Force Strength and native of Wantage, N.J., began working with TF Thunder to accomplish all of the work needed to get the combat outpost up and running.
"They've pretty much built everything from scratch," said Akerstrom. "I know that Thunder's S-6 (automations and communications section) has been working non-stop getting the network up and running.
"That's the most important thing ... getting communications with our brigade," continued Akerstrom. "That's where the focus is right now; and then, after that, (being able to) run regular operations."
To get COP Dash Towp mission ready, soldiers worked outside in August heat for long stretches of time. The work included everything from erecting tents to running wires.
"We've been doing a lot of work out here, building all sorts of buildings, digging out trenches and putting down (Internet) cables," said U.S. Army Spc. Oladele Alabi, a Los Angeles native and multichannel systems operator and maintainer for Task Force Thunder's headquarters battery. "It's a team effort, and that's what we're here for - to set the next unit up for success."
When COP Dash Towp is fully operational, the goal is for TF Thunder soldiers, and ultimately their replacements, to conduct operations in the Chak District of Wardak province. The austere conditions of the COP might not be up to the same living standards most TF Thunder soldiers had on Forward Operating Base Shank before the realignment, but Adams said they will make the best of it.
"The goal is to build our tactical operations center, have it established and make sure everything is working as well as it did back on FOB Shank," said Adams.
"We will be able to accomplish everything simultaneously. It may not be the most perfect conditions, but there never are perfect conditions," continued Adams. "Ultimately, we will be able to accomplish everything that we need to do as far as life support, command-and-control and with planning operations for the future."