25 April 2008

Task Force Saber builds outpost in 6000-foot Afghan mountains

Great article and photo gallery by Drew Brown about the 1-91 Cav, 173rd ABCT setting up shop on the Afghan-Pakistan border in Nuristan Province.

It’s only a 200-meter climb [from where the Chinooks dropped them], but the going is steep and rocky, and the soldiers resemble pack mules under the bright glare of the full moon. Many of them carry rucksacks that weigh 100 pounds or more, not including their body armor, helmets, weapons and ammunition, which easily add another 40 to 50 pounds.

The altitude is nearly 6,000 feet. The peaks of the high mountains in the distance are covered with snow. As Lt. Col. Chris Kolenda, commander of 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, also known as Task Force Saber, puts it, hiking up and down hill at that altitude, under that much weight, can be “a significant emotional experience.”

From setting up a command post under a clump of trees, blasting bunkers for machine gun pits, JTAC personnel calling in air support, and local "visitors" bringing gifts as a ruse for conducting reconnaissance of the American positions, this story has it all.

Despite the drudgery of their days, few of the soldiers complain. Instead, they go about their jobs with a wry sense of humor.

[Capt. Matthew Kikta, 27, of Lake Forest, Calif.,] was standing below the command post, as Pfc. Cory Cook, 22, of Chickasha, Okla., came slogging up the hill. He was covered in sweat and breathing heavily.

“I think I’m going to have a heart attack now,” he said, stopping to catch his breath.

“Are you all right?” Kikta asked.

“[Expletive], no,” Cook answered. “I’m in Afghanistan.”

Read the whole article.

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.

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