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New outpost is bad news for insurgents in Mizan

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The landscape of the Mizan district in southern Afghanistan is dominated by many hills and mountains creating pockets of farmable land in the valleys along the Argandab River. Taliban fighters have long intimidated the local villagers and used this area and its villages as a safe haven for their operations.

However, the peaceful farmers of what is known as the Mizan Bowl (as it is nearly surrounded by mountains and high hills) have less to fear from the Taliban than ever before, thanks to a higher presence of Afghan National Army soldiers in the area and the addition of a new outpost.

The ANA engineers of 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps have built a new outpost in support of Kalak Hode 5 in the Mizan district, and Afghan soldiers from the 6th Kandak, of the same brigade, already have a continuous presence of security from this location and will be able to conduct enduring operations in the surrounding area.

“The overall effect of this outpost is that it is extending the forward line of troops about four kilometers from where it previously was inside the Mizan district center area,” said Maj. Nathan Whitlock, team leader for Security Forces Assistance Team 42, Combined Task Force Arrowhead partnered with the 6th Kandak.

Whitlock went on to say that the outpost allows the 6th Kandak to dominate terrain in all four directions.

Construction was fast paced and the engineers were ahead of schedule within the first day. The engineer’s tempo did not slow, with leveling terrain, laying and filling Hesco barriers in the first three days. The engineers also bulldozed a steep dirt path into a one-lane road reinforced with gravel, that they quarried themselves out of the side of a hill, so it would not wash out during the rainy season.

Afghan soldiers from the 6th Kandak along with soldiers of 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division provided security while the building was under way. The 6th Kandak Commander, Lt. Col. Ultafullah, wasted little time once securing the construction site and immediately began sending out patrols to the surrounding villages. The patrols further secured the area and showed the populace that Afghan National Security Forces were there for their protection.

“It will allow them [ANA] to really get into the local populace; start building their [villagers] confidence in the ANSF and the idea of security,” said Capt. Brian Rieser, commander of Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. “With their [ANA] presence here the Taliban doesn’t have the ability to have unmolested freedom of maneuver of the Mizan Valley.”

During the construction a few local elders approached the hill and had an impromptu meeting with both ANSF and ISAF leadership. All seemed pleased after the meeting and the elders were thankful to see more security forces in the area. That meeting only further heightened the resolve of Ultafullah and his men.

“With this checkpoint we prevent, observe and spot all the enemies. The enemies cannot do any movement in Mizan,” said Ultafullah.

Ultafullah went on to say that this outpost, although not fully completed, has already changed the Mizan Bowl for the ANA, local villagers and most importantly the Taliban. The outpost is preventing the enemy from openly conducting operations from Mizan district and providing security for the area.

Article by Staff Sgt. Joshua Brandenburg, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division