16 April 2008

From FOB Keating to COP Warheit with the 1-91st Cav and Marines ETT in Nuristan

Afghan National Army soldiers and Marine embedded tactical trainers struggle up the last part a patrol from FOB Keating to COP Warheit in Nuristan province, Afghanistan, March 2. The patrol originated on the valley floor and ended near the top of the mountain.

Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Aird of the 173rd ABCT PAO describes a COP Warheit:

The surrounding mountains dominating COP Warheit’s landscape are covered in snow. Large tree covered valleys, rivers and towns dot the landscape below. The outpost is so remote supplies can only be delivered by helicopter. The other option of hand carrying supplies from valley floor from FOB Keating isn’t feasible.

Bravo Troop manages both FOB Keating and COP Warheit. The Soldiers work side by side with their ANA counterparts.

“We fight together. We patrol together. We live together,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Burns, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon.

Bravo Troop even shares showers with ANA Soldiers at FOB Keating because of the limited facilities in the remote area.

“The hardest part of being up here is not being able to shower,” explained Burns, who’s last shower was 29 days ago.

The outpost’s only "running" water is the melting snow. A platoon from Bravo Troop rotates monthly to COP Warheit along with a platoon of ANA Soldiers.

Just days earlier a large fight had taken place between Bravo Troop and the Taliban. FOB Keating was on high alert and extra vehicles were set around the perimeter with 50 Cal. machine guns and Mark 19 grenade launchers locked and loaded.

A paratrooper from Bravo Troop, 1-91 Cav, 173rd ABCT, pulls security during a patrol near FOB Keating in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, March 1, 2008.

Chief Warrant Officer Byung Kim, of the Marines Embedded Training Team led the group of 20 Afghan national army soldiers up a mountain to COP Warheit.

“I just wanted to go up and see how my ANA Soldiers were doing,” explained Kim.

The Marines ETT work together with Bravo Troop, 1-91st Cav, 173rd ABCT to help spread Afghanistan government influence to this remote part of the country.

Relationships between tribes and villages are complex here, and they have been fighting amongst each other long before coalition forces arrived.

“You see that village over there,” pointed Burns. “The buildings were destroyed and the farms were mined by the other villages. The Kushto tribe used to live in those homes. The only thing left standing is that mosque. They now live over behind the next ridge.”

Bravo Company and the ANA have been working to establish peace between the villages of Nagar, Papristan, Jimjuz, Binuz, upper and lower Kamidesh. They promote local development and build working relationships amongst the villages and coalition forces. ANA Soldiers also hand out humanitarian aid supplies to help the villagers during the winter season.

The 1-91st Cav Soldiers have endured one fighting season in Afghanistan this deployment, and have one more to go before they can head home.

“In the ten months we’ve been here we improved the outpost and our relationships with the locals, explained Burns. “The progress takes a lot of hard work, but we’re getting there."

Read the complete article and see more photos.

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.

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