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Operation Rimini reaches out to Afghan villages

By Pfc. Jon H. Arguello

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Aug. 16, 2005) – Coalition forces have completed a 10-day civic assistance mission that included medical, veterinary, and mechanical assistance.

Aug. 8 marked the end of Operation Rimini. The village medical outreach mission was a true joint effort with participation by three Coalition members.

“Team Village,” as the group was called, included American medical, veterinary and mechanical personnel; two Romanian soldiers, one a dentist; and a security element of American and Afghan National Army soldiers, as well as soldiers with varying skill sets.

The mission’s goals were to increase support for the Coalition forces and the government of Afghanistan. The means to provide whatever services the Soldiers could to the local population in several villages across Regional Command South using their diverse training.

“Missions like this really further the cause of the Coalition and Afghan government,” said Capt. Paul Larson, a native of Boulder, Colo., and commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion 503rd Infantry (Airborne). “Counter-insurgency type conflicts are won by engaging the populous and we can only do that so much by killing Taliban. I think you get better results saving a sick child or woman than you can by killing ten Taliban.”

Over the 10-day mission, more than 1,000 Afghan citizens were treated by the Coalition medical staff, including a family practitioner of Charlie Company, 173rd Support Battalion (Airborne). Hundreds more who were bedridden or otherwise unable to reach the medical staff received medicine.

Once patients were checked by the doctor, they had the opportunity to have their teeth looked at by the Romanian 151st Infantry Battalion’s dentist. The dental team conducted 74 exams, extracted 59 teeth and distributed 455 dental hygiene kits over four operating days.

Humans weren’t the only patients during the mission. Flocks of sheep and goats were treated by “Team Sheep,” as the veterinarian and her infantrymen-turned-veterinarian-assistants were called.

Evidence of mission was spread all over the small villages in the form of posters and handbills passed out and posted by Staff Sgt. Timothy O’Connor and his team from the 13th Psychological Operations Battalion.

“We passed out 16,782 pieces of paper product,” said O’Connor. “We also distributed toys and school supplies.”

The posters promoted the Afghan National Army, tips on avoiding illness through proper hygiene and safe meal preparation practices, details on voting procedures and other useful information that people in remote places might not otherwise be aware of.

“These missions are vital to ensure that the people of Afghanistan realize that we are truly here to help, and the goodwill that is shown by all parties involved, will greatly affect the local population’s trust in the Coalition, and their willingness to share information vital to ending anti-Coalition influence, therefore making a truly free Afghanistan.”

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