By Sgt. Michael SwordAugust 30, 2012
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (August 24, 2012) -- As Soldiers step out of Combat Outpost Charkh the path quickly transitions from the brown dusty roads of a village, to lush, green farmland. Today, the heat rises over 90 but that doesn't stop the shopkeepers from opening their doors and local villagers from filling the bazaar. Men, women and children in brightly colored clothing move from shop to shop, filling bags with fruits, vegetables and other supplies.
As coalition and Afghan National Security Forces, or ANSF, continue to combat violence across the country, Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq, commander of 4th Brigade, 203rd Corps, visited his soldiers, checking on their morale and the condition of the area during a patrol in the Charkh District of Afghanistan's Logar Province, Aug. 17, 2012.
Raziq was accompanied by Col. Andrew Rohling, commander of Task Force 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and Soldiers from the 173rd's Legion Company, 1st Battlaion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.
"It's a little rough, but it's what you expect when you're enlisting," said Pfc. Bryson Chester, a grenadier with 2nd Platoon, Legion Co., and native of Tehachapi, Calif. "Don't get me wrong, things are getting better."
After a month in the area, the Afghan National Army, or ANA, and men of Legion Company patrol the area frequently, improving security and instilling faith in the local villagers.
"They support me for two patrols a day," said Capt. Aaron Godlewski, commander of Legion Co., 1st Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt., TF 173rd ABCT. "They do a very good job securing the bazaar and the population center."
While they continue their hard work, insurgents in the area are also working to affect the daily lives of the local Afghans.
"We understand the key terrain here is the people," said Godlewski. "The insurgents have the ability to threaten people's lives and we don't do that and the ANA don't do that. We try to influence the people by being friendly, being respectful."
While Rohling talked with his commander in the area, Raziq made sure to take advantage of this chance to talk with his troops and villagers in the bazaar.
"It was very important that I come here to see my soldiers," he said, through an interpreter. "I also talked with the villagers in the streets and they're very happy, they are very happy with the ANA and security forces."
As Raziq made his way through the bazaar, he took in the sights, comparing it to the same time last year, noticing the increase in the amount of people out and about during the day.
"When I came here last year there were not many people in the bazaar," he said. "But this year, there are a lot more people coming to the bazaar.
As the Soldiers of Legion Co., and the ANA continue to patrol the area, Godlewski has been impressed with the actions of the soldiers and commander of his brother company, 1st Toli, 1st Kandak, of 4th Brigade.
"I will tell you that the ANA I work with currently, are very resilient and they're very good at their jobs," he said. "Their toli commander is phenomenal. The guy is fearless. He goes out there, he engages the enemy, he engages the local populace and he is a very strong piece of what we do here."
Raziq saw his soldiers in action first-hand after his soldiers took contact from small arms and mortars. Along with the Legion Soldiers, they reacted, fighting off and quickly ending the attack, giving Raziq confidence that they will continue to make progress improving security in the area.
"They have a good relationship with the people," he said. "They have great morale and they're working hard over here."