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Afghan Soldiers Taking Over Security Mission in Tarin Kowt

By Sgt. Douglas DeMaio, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE RIPLEY, Afghanistan, May 9, 2005 – U.S. forces here are beginning to hand over security responsibilities to the Afghan National Army.

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Platoon Sgt. Alladad of the Afghan National Army's 3rd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th Corps, gives some children a stick of gum during a patrol in Tarin Kowt. Photo by Sgt. Douglas DeMaio, USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

As the Bobcats of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, pull their troops from the Tarin Kowt area, the ANA's 3rd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th Corps, is moving in.

"They have been working pretty much hand in hand with Bobcat," said Maj. Kellard Townsend, the embedded training team's logistics adviser to the kandak. "They are definitely ahead of the game with all the new players coming in. They know the critical areas and the key players."

The standup of the ANA in Tarin Kowt brings security to the area that villagers are more likely to welcome, said ANA Capt. Kamrullden. "ANA soldiers are Afghanistan's soldiers," he said.

ANA kandaks are formed during training at Kabul Military Training Center and are made up of soldiers from tribes all over Afghanistan. Being such a diverse force tells villagers that the ANA is the nation's army, the captain said. "When we get to a new area, I ask the soldiers to first walk around in their uniforms when they go to the village," he said.

Doing this allows the soldiers to make an immediate impact, said Platoon Sgt. Alladad, who has been in the ANA for more than three years. "When the people see the green beret, they know we represent an army that holds Islamic values," he said.

The soldiers speak to villagers on the streets and let them know the ANA is in the area to provide a service to the people -- security and economic growth.

"They are establishing their bases around the country and building up the infrastructure," Townsend said. Establishing a base in the area brings more financial stability to Tarin Kowt. Contracts for the base bring money into the local economy. Roads such as the Tarin Kowt - Kandahar Road being built provide supply routes and accessibility for Afghanistan's military.

"It's for the military, but it benefits the economy more than anything else," Townsend said.

Roads were one thing that dramatically improved the security and stability of Qalat in Zabul province, Alladad said.

Prior to moving to Tarin Kowt to establish a new base, the kandak was in Qalat, where the unit's mission was the same as it will be in Tarin Kowt: disarming militants and improving security in the area so the community can prosper.

The city now has business owners making more money because of the security in the area and roads, which bring in travelers and other goods for trade. "We brought security and growth in Zabul and plan to do the same for Tarin Kowt," Kamrullden said.

(Army Sgt. Douglas DeMaio is assigned to the 20th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePlatoon Sgt. Alladad looks over some albums at a music shop in the village of Tarin Kowt. Photo by Sgt. Douglas DeMaio, USA  
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