Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Improvement Key to Security for Scouts

Soldiers from 6-4 CAV, 3-1 ID, pack dirt into a barrier along the perimeter of their combat outpost in Northeastern Afghanistan. The barriers are just one of the improvements they are making to enhance their security.


BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – For the Soldiers in the dangerous terrain of the mountainous Nuristan province of Afghanistan, improving their outposts is important to security and relations in the area.

The Pakistan border is a common entrance into Afghanistan for terrorists.

Building relationships with local residents helps deny the terrorists sanctuary along the Pakistan border, said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Couch, an outpost platoon sergeant from Smithville, Texas.

Units along the border patrol through villages to meet with the locals and show them they are there to help. But, where the locations of the outposts are good for interaction with villagers, they are also targets for insurgent attacks. The Soldiers who live and fight in these outposts have to constantly improve their boundries to stay safe so they can continue to help the locals in the area.

Soldiers from the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, make any improvements that can be made to their positions, and when necessary the Soldiers improvise with building supplies.

Improvising includes using whatever construction materials are available. Ammo cans are used for steps and nearby timber is used to build walls and improve fighting positions.

The Soldiers are not only improving their situation, but are getting a sense of satisfaction from their work.

“The best thing about being on the OP is seeing the improvements and the satisfaction of knowing you made the OP better,” said Sgt. Brian Creed, squad leader from Siloam, N.C.

Couch has similar feelings about the many improvements on the Ops, and feels they have improved their ability to fight and defend.

Having a good fighting position and the ability to defend it is important, but the Soldiers need something to boost their morale as well.

“Improving Soldiers’ morale is really important, too, especially up here, because we're kind of away from everything,” Couch said. “We now have Internet and phones up here so the Soldiers have contact with home when they have time.”

The Soldiers have also made changes to assist the Afghan national security forces who fight by their side. This helps develop the OP and builds relationships.

“We've done several things for the [Afghan national army] and [Afghan security guards] as well as the locals. We've built new fighting positions for the ANA and ASG and we're currently in the process of building barracks for them as well,” Couch said. “We have a good working relationship with the Afghan national security forces and we want to keep improving that.”

The Soldiers are constantly working to improve the OP to make sure they have everything necessary to complete their mission. Improving the OP guard tower, routine patrols around the OP and fire missions are just some of the tasks Soldiers do as part of their daily routine.

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