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Afghans Report IEDs; Afghan Aviators Complete Historic Mission

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2006 – Afghans reported improvised explosive devices to local officials in two separate incidents today, and Afghan National Army aviators completed their first combat-support mission April 15, military officials in Afghanistan reported today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Afghan National Army Sgt. Abdul Khaliq, of the ANA's Central Movement Agency, hands a box of food to U.S. Army Sgt. Juan Trejos on an Afghan Air Corps Mi-17 Hip helicopter at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, April 12. Soldiers from ANA's Central Movement Agency trained with their coalition counterparts prior to the ANA Air Corps first aerial resupply mission in partnership with the coalition's Task Force Falcon. Trejos is assigned to the 600th Quartermaster Company, deployed from Fort Bragg, N.C. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Rautio, USA

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

An Afghan man reported an IED placed inside a mosque today in Khost province. The Afghan disclosed the location of the IED to Afghan National Police officers in the city of Bakh Tana, who in turn notified coalition forces. With permission from local religious leaders, a coalition explosive ordnance disposal team entered the mosque and rendered the IED harmless.

In the village of Wesh, in the Kandahar province, Afghans notified local officials of three IEDs emplaced throughout the village. One IED exploded, but no one was injured, and it caused only minor damage to a school. Coalition forces safely disposed of two more IEDs.

"These devices are the tools of terror, used by criminals in their ruthless pursuit of their oppressive ideals," Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman, said. "That an Afghan turned over the location of the device to coalition forces clearly shows that the country is united and confident in its stand against these brutal oppressors."

In another development, Afghan National Army aviators completed their first combat-support mission April 15 in partnership with the coalition's Task Force Falcon.

Two Afghan National Army Air Corps crews arrived at Bagram Air Base April 10, completed several days of training, and then flew supplies aboard their Mi-17 Hip helicopters to Afghan and U.S. forces in Jalalabad.

Afghan and coalition participants are calling the mission a success.

"It was special to me to be part of the first time we've done this mission together with the coalition. We had no problems and executed the mission properly," said Col. Nematullah, an Afghan National Army Air Corps pilot who, like many Afghans, uses only one name.

"Everything ran smoothly," said Army Maj. Brian Serota, Task Force Falcon's operations officer. "We started mission planning on (April 12) with the embedded trainers, went through some planning stages -- map reconnaissance, flight routes, weather, terrain and possible enemy action -- then did a rehearsal on (April 13). On (April 14), soldiers from the Joint Logistics Command came to help load the aircraft, and (April 15) the aviators executed the mission. It was excellent."

The first group of Afghan aviators conducted after-action reviews to identify areas in which they could improve, and then continued to fly missions for the remainder of their 10-day stay, Serota said. A second group was scheduled to replace them as soon as they departed.

"We want to rely on the Afghan Air Corps, to be able to give them a mission, or part of a ring route, and have them plan, coordinate and execute it themselves," Serota said.

Separately, soldiers from the Afghan National Army's Central Movement Agency trained with members of the coalition's Joint Logistics Command detachment at Bagram Air Base to improve the Afghan National Army's logistical support capabilities.

From April 12 through April 14, Afghan and coalition soldiers practiced preparing cargo for various modes of delivery -- in cargo holds, in sling loads and by parachute.

The training culminated with the presentation of an Afghan-U.S. partnership pin to members of both organizations.

"This is just the beginning of a partnership between ANA logisticians and coalition logisticians," said Army Col. Larry Wyche, commander of the Joint Logistics Command detachment.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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