TF Storm locks out insurgents from Charkh bazaar
Under cover of darkness, alert mountain warriors silently glided through a village toward the most hostile region of their assigned area.
Each Soldier continually pivoted his head as he passed small alleyways along the main streets. Insurgents use these spokes during the day to make quick getaways after they throw grenades at Afghan and U.S. Soldiers in the civilian-packed market.
Soldiers assigned to 2-30th Infantry, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division's Task Force Storm secured villages in Charkh district for five days, which prevented insurgents the freedom of movement, during Operation Charkh Resolution, April 1-5.
Company B of TF Storm maintained a presence in the main Charkh bazaar for more than three months. In that time, there has been substantial improvement.
"When we first started operations in the bazaar, we saw almost nobody," said 1st Lt. Sean M. Cockrill, Co. B's executive officer. "Now business is normal, and the locals said the Taliban are the only people who don't come through there anymore."
Their presence in the bazaar helped secure the area, but the Soldiers who manned the positions were attacked regularly. A river flows parallel to the coalition positions in the market. Enemy fighters often crossed the river and attacked the security positions, then traversed back across and hid.
"We pushed over the river to Nawshad and secured the foot bridges," said Cockrill.
Crossing into an area that was historically an enemy safe haven, the Soldiers pushed forward and took up blocking positions.
"We didn't know what to expect when we moved into Nawshad," said Cockrill. "But, the people were unexpectedly receptive to our presence."
U.S. Soldiers provided security as Afghan policemen and soldiers spoke to local residents and searched homes for weapons caches and any other illegal materials.
"We are working closely with ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and the governor and district sub-governor to bring stability to this historically kinetic district," said Cockrill. "We want to show the people that the ANSF and GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) are here to help them."
Staff Sgt. Alvin Beaumont, a squad leader assigned to Co. B, explained the benefits of offensive operations like Charkh Resolution are twofold.
"We are taking the first small steps toward securing the people, which provides them more freedom," said Beaumont. "Also, by taking the fight to the enemy here, we avoid fighting these guys at home."
As the week-long operation came to a close, Soldiers began rotating back to their combat outpost to refit. Optimistic chatter about the future of Charkh filled the air. The offensive efforts seemed to pay off with few engagements with insurgents.
The local population stood up to the Taliban as well, continuing to conduct business - as soldiers and policemen pushed out enemy fighters - instead of taking the common approach of shutting down shops and retreating into their homes.
Article by Sgt. Cooper T. Cash, Task Force Patriot Public Affairs