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Freedom Watch May 2010

7 May 2010 No Comment

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May Issue of Freedom Watch features my nephew Army Pfc. Michael J. Smith and his boys in 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The magazine Freedom Watch is in no way affiliated with the most awesome Stubble Musiczine.

Freedom Watch Magazine which is based out of Bagram and produced by the 304th Public Affairs Detachment, is comprised of articles and photos submitted by journalists throughout Afghanistan.The Freedom Watch Afghanistan Magazine’s mission is to inform and educate U.S. and Coalition Forces of activities in Afghanistan by producing and providing a relevant and high-quality publication.

Exceprts from the story on Page 4…

The region is the perfect hideout for members of the Taliban and the Haqqani network, a lesser-known, but equally dangerous organized crime organization that operates in the Zadran tribe-controlled areas of Afghanistan.

The troops convoy to remote villages to make connections with village leaders and obtain information about enemy whereabouts. “A baseline of information hasn’t been established in (Dwomandah district), so we are basically building things from the ground up in conjunction with other government agencies,” said Scout Plt. leader, Army 1st Lt. James R. Rudisill. `

On March 20, Scout Plt. left Camp Clark with support from the ANA 6th Co., 1st Kandak, 203rd Corps to visit four areas of interest over the course of two days.

After making two peaceful stops at villages, the troops followed a narrow gorge to the third area of interest. The gorge seemed an ideal place to stage an ambush so the troops fanned out in two squad formations and combed the hill for traces of enemy movement, such as fire pits, dugouts and spent shell casings. This time nothing turned up. `

The Scout Plt. troops spent the night at COP Wilderness and were happy to sleep with a roof over their heads. They often sleep in their vehicles or on the ground. `

The following morning, Scout Plt. visited a village called Seyyed Kheyl. Unlike the others, Seyyed Kheyl is large enough that Smith describes it as an “urban environment” that spans both sides of the riverbed. `

The troops dismounted and patrolled the village, crossing over a large stream by a bridge made of a log and some rocks that the locals had been using. The unit did not encounter the enemy en route, but they were in a constant battle against the terrain. `

Many of the areas of interest can only be reached by traveling off-road through riverbeds, called Wadis. Wadis are normaly dry, but are prone to flash flooding and often carry water during the spring. Given the life-threatening nature of rollovers near water, the drivers must be on guard when crossing river beds cut out from flash floods thatwadis. `

Once, an axle of a Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicle broke while trying to navigate a difficult area of a wadi. The same vehicle tipped over while it was being towed, though no one was inside. `

“The terrain is our biggest enemy–that pretty much sums it up,” said Army Pfc. Michael J. Smith, an MRAP driver for Scout Plt. “That’s the biggest issue we have–getting out and being able to engage all these villages,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Edwards, platoon sergeant for Scout Plt. `

Once the Soldiers reach an area of interest they pull security while the platoon leadership seeks out village leadership and ask about the village’s civil and security needs. `

“The willingness to cooperate is there,” Edwards said, adding that the relationship between the unit and the villagers is a “young relationship with a lot of potential.” `

The area remains difficult, but Edwards said there is reason to believe things will get better. “There is noticeable improvement every time we go out,” he said. `

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