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Troops find militia caches in push to Jalalabad

Army News Service

Release Date: 1/7/2004

By Sgt. Greg Heath

SUROBI, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Jan. 7, 2003) - Just hours after Christmas day had passed, the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment "Catamounts" of 10th Mountain Division embarked on their latest mission to disrupt anti-coalition militia activity in eastern Kabul province.

More than 600 soldiers conducted operations for four days along a stretch of the main road that runs from the capital city of Kabul to the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Coalition supply trucks that had been driving along the road en route to Bagram Air Base had recently been engaged multiple times by anti-coalition militia using rocket propelled grenades, according to 2-87 Commander Lt. Col. David Paschal.

With the entire battalion working together for the first time on a single mission since arriving in country in August, the Catamounts were able to search three large areas in three days in an effort to find illegal weapons possibly used in the attacks.

"We were able to cover a lot more ground quickly with the whole force out," said Staff Sgt. Charles Haskins, 1st Platoon, Company C.

By the time the Catamounts had pulled out of the last village of their four-day mission, they had, in the end, recovered more than 50 RPGs, more than a dozen mortar rounds, a canister of gunpowder, improvised explosive device making materials, and dozens of grenades and small arms.

During the operation, and especially at their final and largest objective of the mission, the dense village of Surobi, having the battalion out in force came in handy, according to Haskins.

"I've been to a couple other villages but this is huge, just huge," said Haskins "This village has alleyways, side streets, different tiers, apartment buildings, it's just crazy."

The battalion's four separate companies were able to split up as they entered villages and each searched homes in their designated area.

Haskins said the searches were, for the most part, "low intensity."

"We try to be sensitive to the (Afghans), we don't just go in busting down doors."

He added that although the battalion didn't face any resistance during the searches, everyone was still glad to be working as a whole battalion in an area that has been known to harbor anti-coalition militia, known as ACM.

"It was good knowing that you have companies to your left and right," Haskins said.

In Surobi, the Soldiers got some help from the villagers who led them to a couple different cache sites.

But the most enthusiastic help came from a large group of local Afghan children who followed the 1st platoon of Co. C Soldiers around almost the entire day.

The children led the 1st platoon Soldiers to two different sites where unexploded ordnance was located.

For Haskins and many of the soldiers in his platoon, interacting with the children in Surobi was one of the most rewarding experiences of the mission.

"Hopefully making a good impression with the children now will help our relationship with (Afghans) in the future," said Haskins.

"I do believe that this mission has made a difference," said Capt. Newton Grant, battalion intelligence officer. "Our operations in this particular area have disrupted the ACMs, forcing them to move to other areas because they know that our presence and the types of operations we're running here will make it extremely difficult for them to do the things that they want to do. The ACM in the area try to instill fear in the people and our presence in the area will give the people confidence that we're committed to rooting out the ACM that live in their communities."

(Editor's note: Sgt. Greg Heath is a member of the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)



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