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American Forces Press Service

Reconstruction Team Joins Clearing Operation

By Air Force Master Sgt. Sarah R. Webb
Special to American Forces Press Service

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2010 – More than 100 members from the provincial reconstruction team and coalition forces participated in a clearing operation with Afghan soldiers in the Gelan district here Jan. 6 and 7.

The Afghan-led operation involved clearing buildings and establishing security, which helped the Afghan soldiers fine-tune their newly acquired skills in establishing security against insurgents, officials said.

The coalition forces included soldiers from Poland’s 2nd Operational Mentoring Liaison Team, explosive ordnance disposal personnel from Task Force Paladin and a route-clearance team from Forward Operating Base Sherona.

“Since the beginning of my tour, we’ve conducted six missions with the [Afghan army],” said Lt. Col. Romon Utracki, commander of the Polish team, assigned to Forward Operating Base Warrior. On those missions, he added, the Afghan soldiers detained six people and found a weapons cache.

To make the operation as challenging as possible, the Afghan soldiers chose specific targets because of the high recent level of enemy harassment of the local population.

“It is our job to provide training for the [Afghan soldiers] who work in this theater,” Utracki said. “We accomplished our mission today. They decided their targets, created a plan and stuck with it. They did a good job.”

During the operation, the Polish team established close supporting positions while the other elements secured the outer perimeter. Once the Afghan soldiers had cleared and secured the areas, civil affairs members from the provincial reconstruction team met with village elders to ask about residents’ needs and gauge the relationships between the villagers and the Afghan security forces.

(Air Force Master Sgt. Sarah R. Webb serves in the provincial reconstruction team public affairs office in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province.)

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