Task Force Red Knight captures 3, locates weapons cache
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The combination of weapons, ammunition, improvised explosive devices and enemy insurgents spell danger for any coalition forces facing them.
Fortunately, a highly-skilled group of Soldiers here make it their mission to locate, capture or destroy insurgents and their weapons before they can be used against friendly forces.
The Soldiers are from Task Force Red Knight's Focused Targeting Force, a specialized team including members of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, as well as a group of Afghan National Army Soldiers, a team of Explosive Ordinance Device personnel, U.S. law enforcement personnel, a Counter IED team and a Human Intelligence Team.
In all, the FTF is comprised of more than 60 specialized personnel. Together they have conducted more than 40 successful missions, capturing 15 joint priority targets as well as weapons, ammunition and IED parts.
On one recent mission the team air-assaulted into a local village. Their goal was to locate a suspected weapons cache and various materials used to make homemade explosives.
"We got some information early in the morning about a possible pending attack from this location," said U.S. Army Capt. Ryan Thomas, native of Laguna Nigel, Calif., and FTF Platoon Leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment. "This was a time-sensitive target and we didn't have much time to plan for it."
Despite the short notice, the team was able to quickly mobilize and conduct the operation.
The first step was air-assaulting into the area via helicopters. Once on the ground, the FTF surrounded the suspected enemy compound and began systematically searching and clearing each room for signs of enemy activity.
In one room the team located copper wire, a clothespin operated switch, various electronic components and a blasting cap.
Another room held an AK-47 rifle with four magazines, one grenade, eight cell-phones and nine cassette tapes.
The Soldiers also discovered a machine gun, several identification cards, nearly 70 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, batteries, binoculars and a propaganda poster.
"This was a great mission and a very successful one," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Cole, squad leader and native of Lebanon, Tenn., FTF, 3rd Bn., 320th Field Artillery Reg. "We were able to take a lot of items into evidence. Hopefully that will lead to future intelligence and more enemy forces and weapons off the battlefield."
In addition to collecting evidence, the team also detained three possible insurgents, one of which was a high-priority target.
"We were able to successfully insert our team and complete our mission with no shots fired, and nothing was damaged," said Thomas. "We definitely separated enemy forces from the populace and lived up to all the counter-insurgency principles in the process."
Article by Pfc. Chris McKenna, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Air Assault Division