During the early morning hours, as the U.S. Army soldiers were preparing for a patrol with their Afghan National Security Forces counterparts, they received a radio call that would give them the confidence boost needed for the mission ahead. “Seventeen enemy (killed in action),” squawked the voice on the other end of the radio.
The Task Force Currahee Soldiers from Company B, “Dog Company”, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were tasked to clear an observation post in Gayan District, Paktika Province, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border, March 27 to 28.
Observation Post 4 looks like any other mountain top in the sprawling Afghan scenery, however this particular mountain top overlooks the border of Pakistan. Dog Company Soldiers and the ANSF have battled insurgents for the territory since TF Currahee occupied the territory in their previous deployment.
“Observation Post 4 is a key piece of terrain that overlooks the low ground between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said U.S. Army Capt. Ed Churchill II, commander of Co. B, Dog Company, 2nd Bn., 506th Inf., TF Currahee, and native of Agusta, Maine.
The mission itself was difficult for the Soldiers, but the conditions made it even more challenging.
According to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Adam Petrone, platoon sergeant of 3rd Platoon, Dog Co., and native of Coos Bay, Ore., the mission occurred in mountain terrain between 6,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation.
He said the Soldiers carried approximately 100 pounds of equipment. In addition to their body armor and weapons, they also carried an extra supply of food and water in case they stayed out longer than anticipated.
Carrying all that weight, traveling over 14 miles, up and down hills, sweating during the day and shivering at night, and not once ever complaining or showing any sign of quit, is quite impressive, said Petrone while talking about the Soldiers he is responsible for.
The Afghan National Army Soldiers, along with the Afghan Border Police stood shoulder to shoulder with their partners leading the way through the terrain.
“Having our ANSF partners with us is important, it shows that they want to take charge of the security of their country and care about the future of Afghanistan,” said Petrone.
As the soldiers neared their objective, they received small arms fire and rocket propelled grenade rounds from their destination, OP 4.
“The soldiers immediately and effectively began suppressing the enemy in the face of intense fire,” said Churchill. “The men of 3rd Plt. plus the (Head Quarters) element covered 600 meters of mountainous terrain, running down the side of a 50 degree hill, in order to support the element in contact. The Soldiers directed fire, ensured security and defeated the enemy ambush with tenacity and skill.”
Churchill spoke about how his Soldiers and ANSF counterparts repelled the attack even after two Soldiers sustained wounds.
“Every single Soldier, including the ANSF, moved to the sound of the guns, and closed with and destroyed the enemy,” said Churchill.
As soon as the fight started, it was over. The Soldiers evacuated the wounded, cross-loaded ammunition so everyone had an equal share of what remained, and everyone took a different piece of gear the wounded soldiers could no longer carry. Then, it was back to business.
“I am surrounded by dedicated professionals every day, with soldiers and leaders I respect and trust with my life,” said Churchill.
The soldiers made it to OP 4, spent the night taking turns between shivering in the cold and rain and sleeping in a sleeping bag on top of the rocky terrain.
At daybreak the soldiers packed their gear and returned to base. Before they departed they received word that both of the friendly casualties were in stable condition.
“I feel that we accomplished the mission of clearing men and caches out of the OP 4 area,” said Churchill. “The insurgents are coming to realize that they do not own OP 4 as an infiltration route, and that we will continue to exercise our freedom of maneuver and deny the enemy any freedom of maneuver in Gayan District. We are sending a very clear message to the insurgents, if you come to Gayan, we will destroy you.”
Article by Combined Joint Task Force 101