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On the Ground: U.S. Forces Aid Afghan Counterparts

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2009 – U.S. forces offered their support to Afghan forces June 18 in two separate missions: one aimed at boosting military skills and the other at providing aid to school children.

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An Afghan commando from the 1st Company Commando, 203rd Corps Commando Kandak, slides down a rope during “fast-roping” training at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, June 18, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Armstrong
  

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A company of Afghan commandos, aided by U.S. soldiers, conducted a two-day “fast-roping” training course at Forward Operating Base Salerno, southeast of Kabul.

Helicopter-borne insertion, better known as air assault, is the movement of military forces to engage and destroy enemy forces or to seize and hold key terrain. Fast-roping is a technique for descending a thick rope, not unlike the one most Americans use in high school gym class. This technique is useful for deploying troops from a helicopter in places where the helicopter itself is unable to touch down.

With support and training from soldiers of Combined Joint Task Force Afghanistan and Task Force Attack, Afghan commandos from the 1st Company Commandos, 203rd Corps Commando Kandak, were instructed on proper techniques for fast-roping onto an objective and immediately securing the perimeter.

Trainees used a rope connected to a forklift before graduating to jumping from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Afghan Col. Ggulam Nabi, the commander of the 203rd, pointed out the importance of being trained in air assault.

"This is a tactical advantage we must learn," Nabi explained. "We need to be able to drop forces quickly into the fight. The helicopters can come and drop us onto difficult terrain like mountains, dense orchards and behind

the enemy without landing. Because of this, we need this training to eliminate terrorists and to defeat the enemies of Afghanistan."

Nabi said he hopes his commandos will be able to pass on the skills they learned to other commandos in the future.

Elsewhere, Afghan commandos of the 205th Corps and their coalition partners handed out school supplies and toys to children at a school near Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar province.

The commandos led the coordination and distribution efforts while coalition forces provided some of the school supplies and toys for more than 100 children.

"The commandos made all the students and teachers very happy today," said Mohammed Esa, the school principal. "We are very glad [they] came to help the children."

The supplies included book bags, pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, coloring books and crayons.

Though the distribution of school supplies isn't at the forefront of their responsibilities, Afghan 1st Lt. Mohammed Shifa said he enjoyed giving back to the community, which has been very supportive of the commandos’ efforts.

"Our primary responsibilities are to look after the safety and security of the Afghan people," Shifa said. "Today, we are distributing these items and helping the children as representatives of the Afghan government. I'm quite happy we could do something for the children."

Shifa and the other commandos spoke to the children about the importance of a good education. He said the children should make it a point to learn about their nation's history and what their families have gone through.

Shifa said important messages were passed on to the children.

"We told the children the main enemies are the Taliban and opium," he said. "We said to inform us, the Afghan National Police or a government representative, if you see anybody doing the wrong thing."

The commandos also handed out soccer balls and volleyballs to the children.

"We are very grateful for the gifts and supplies," Esa said. "The commandos and coalition forces have been very good for the children at the school. These are all our children, and we thank [them] for the help they are providing."

(Army Sgt. Michael Armstrong of the 40th Public Affairs Detachment contributed to this article. Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy 1st Lt. Thomas Buller demonstrates the proper way to "fast rope" to Afghan commandos during a two-day training course at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, June 18, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Armstrong   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAfghan commandos of the 205th Corps hand out school supplies to schoolchildren near Kandahar City, Afghanistan, June 18, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. James Tamez  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAfghan commandos of the 205th Corps gather schoolchildren before they hand out soccer balls and volleyballs at a school near Kandahar City, Afghanistan, June 18, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. James Tamez  
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