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New Combat Outpost Sees Quick Progress in Southern Afghanistan

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2009 – U.S. soldiers are seeing positive results from their increased presence at the newly built Combat Outpost Terminator in the Maywand district of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Gov. Noor Mohammed Akhwand of the Maywand district of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, distributes food to the residents of Ata Mohammed Kartz on Jan. 6, 2009. The presence of U.S. soldiers at a new combat outpost in the area made it possible for the humanitarian aid and Afghan government officials to travel safely to the village. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Donner

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

Within weeks of building a permanent outpost, the soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team reported an increased willingness from local residents to help them and to accept help from them.

“When we first came to the area, no one would talk to us,” Army Capt. Chris Brawley, commander of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment. “As soon as we started building, they began talking to us.”

“The Maywand district is used to move supplies, narcotics and medical support for the Taliban,” Army Spc. Andrew Gardiner said. “Our goal here is to disrupt the supply routes for the Taliban.”

This was a difficult task for soldiers to accomplish before establishing a permanent presence.

“Before, we came here for a couple of days, but then we would leave and it would be back to business as usual for [the Taliban],” Brawley explained. “People have told us that [within days] of building, the Taliban started clearing out of here.”

The soldiers want to continue to build on this success.

“When we first got here, most people would tell you that it was six months since they had last seen coalition forces, and one day since they had last seen the Taliban,” Brawley said. “We want to reverse that. We want to patrol so much that we are a constant presence.”

Gardiner said he believes support will continue to grow in the area.

“They are warming up to us, because they recognize we are going to stay here,” he said. “Our area of influence will expand as we have more opportunities to get out and talk to people. Each time we patrol, we try to talk to more people. They are definitely more positive about our presence.”

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie serves in the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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