ZHARAY DISTRICT, Afghanistan (Army News Service, July 20, 2012) -- This month, American Soldiers here, in partnership with their Afghan Uniformed Police counterparts, completed improvements on a compound for Afghan forces that is located at a police station in central Azikzai.

It was Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, who lead the project that will help continue to strengthen relationships with their Afghan Uniformed Police, or AUP, partners.

The improved compound will assist the AUP as it prepares to assume its lead security role when coalition forces eventually depart the country. The compound is in a region that had been for six years controlled by the Taliban.

"We have put blood, sweat and tears into this compound in order to make it sustainable for our Afghan counterparts," said 1st Lt. Samuel C. Herbert, the platoon leader for 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 5-20th Inf.

Herbert said that when his Soldiers first took over the compound, it came under attack every day and night. However, a recent engagement that resulted in two enemy casualties ended the attacks.

The Soldiers from 2nd Platoon and their AUP partners had been living and working in the compound for more than two months while making the improvements.

With few supplies, the coalition Soldiers made their compound as secure and comfortable as possible. They built guard towers and observation posts to prevent and fend off enemy attacks and also constructed a living area to house 40 Soldiers.

Other improvements included a revitalized well, a new shower facility, a Shura location, and an outdoor gym. The Soldiers also tended to grape plants, a pomegranate orchard and patches of grass.

The compound doesn't have air conditioning, but the residents consider the compound's improved security a luxury they prefer over cool air.

"The compound here can now serve as a place where AUP and hopefully, soon, Afghan Local Police, can train and recruit," Herbert said. "Our greatest accomplishment is having a defendable position now to project power. It shows local people the area is now safe and friendly forces hold a continued presence of force here."

Herbert is pleased by the battalion's progress in the area.

"What I'm proud of is we came into a virtually impenetrable [improvised explosive device] area and cleared it out," he said. "We now hold this compound as a strong point and we are here to stay."

Herbert is confident conditions will continue to improve throughout the duration of the battalion's deployment.

"My Soldiers will continue coaching our Afghan counterparts so that they can continue to succeed after we leave," Herbert said.