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Jalalabad Airfield / Forward Operating Base Fenty

When the US Marine Corps' 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, ventured into the Tora Bora mountains in May 2005 to hunt down enemy fighters, they instead found Afghans eager for a brighter future. The mission, dubbed Operation Celtics, began as an offensive in an enemy sanctuary - the rugged mountains of Nangahar province that stretch along the Pakistan border. It was one of several missions launched by coalition troops to locate insurgents. Afghan National Army soldiers took part in the operations. "Lima" Company Marines were prepared for a fight, but found themselves sipping tea with village elders.

In the first few days of the operation, the Marines distributed roughly eight tons of civic aid. And not a shot was fired. Insurgents operating in the area would likely rely upon local villagers for support while transiting through the high-altitude passes, Kelly said. Marines patrolled into remote villages, set up security and talked with local citizens to assess their needs and gain information on enemy activity.

Battalion headquarters at Jalalabad Airfield was where aviation assets from the U.S. Army's Company F, 3rd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment -- known to troops as "Big Windy" -- were on standby to airlift bundles of civic aid.

Jalalabad Airfiled encompasses Forward Operating Fenty part of the coalitions Regional Command East. FOB Fenty was named in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Fenty on May 4, 2007. Fenty was home to some 1,300 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team as of September 2007 as well as a number of civilian contractors and Afghan Security Forces, about 120 of which helped US forces pull perimeter security around the large airfield and outpost.

Throughout the summer of 2007 and into September Jalalabad had an eye toward expansion, a new medical center was finished in June and the 173rd was looking to expand the airfield compound by 109 acres, but before that would be done they needed the go ahead from coalition and Afghan authorities. Most of the soldiers stationed there live on the south side of the airfield, the runway splits the base in half and the north side was expected to be used by the Afghan National Army Air Corps for training first and operations in the future.

Other projects on Fenty were under construction, including a new tactical operations center for the 173rd, better and more housing for the soldiers and contractors. Brick and mortar housing was planned, to replace the tents and plywood buildings that many soldiers had been using since they first arrived in Jalalabad.

One of the main projects being worked on was the expanding the rotary wing aviation area adjacent to the runway. Plans also were under way for repairing and upgrading the runway itself.

FOB Fenty even has a local Afghani contracting office that as of February 2008 was overseeing at least 500 contracts worth 20 million dollars for services rendered to coalition forces in the province. The majority of contracts are intended for local Afghan businesses improving relations and allowing businesses to expand using new technologies and practices.

On July 19, 2008 Presidential hopeful Barack Obama and two other Senators visited troops at the Jalalabad Airfield to thank them for all they were doing and to pledge his ongoing commitment to operations in Afghanistan.



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