After some downtime following the elections, the Wildhorse made a return visit to the internally displaced person's camp in the Southwest Mehtar Lam area today. It has been learned that the camp is made up of two tribes who fled an area that is controlled by the Taliban. The local government has given permission for one of the tribes to permanently reside on the camp site and we are currently working with the government to grant permission to the other. In the mean time, we are working to address the needs of the villagers, especially getting them clean drinking water. We are also hoping to make some new friends here. We donated about 2,000 lbs of humanitarian aid made up mostly of food during the visit. A boy stands next to his village well in one photo. The well is in need of repair and does not produce sufficient water for the tribes. One tribe's Malik, or leader, addresses his tribe's issues with the government leaders in the other. The group of children are waiting to receive the humanitarian aid (Photos courtesy of LTC John Cunningham).
Monday, August 24, 2009
The Wildhorse Squadron is pleased to have filmmaker Tyler Elliott with us. Tyler received permission from the U.S. Army Pubic Affairs office in LA to make a documentary on the Squadron. This is a very rare and privileged occurrence for a unit in Afghanistan because most embeds are here gathering news stories rather than making films. This will also be a great way to document the Squadron's history. Tyler is a fellow Nevadan from the Reno area and this will be his first documentary. He arrived just in time for the elections and will be here through most of Ramadan. He will be embedded with the same Platoon the entire time with the goal of capturing Afghanistan from the soldier's perspective. Tyler hopes the film will be released in about a year.
Friday, August 21, 2009
TF Wildhorse considered the elections in Laghman Province a big success. The governor of Laghman has declared a large voter turnout during his initial assessment. Only two of the one hundred and twenty six polling stations in Laghman were closed due to Taliban interference. Most of the security planning and execution for the elections was conducted by the Afghan National Security Forces and the Independent Election Committee. TF Wildhorse played a tertiary "quick reaction force" role in order to respond to any catastrophic events, which fortunately in Laghman never happened. The photo was taken by SFC Steven Kovacs of two gentlemen displaying their "voter ink" indicating that they have cast their votes (I do not have election information or other stories from the Wildhorse elements in other provinces but I have gained contact with their representatives and will soon include their postings).
Thursday, August 20, 2009
TF Wildhorse assisted a local contractor with providing school supplies to a local all girl's school. Click on the link below to read the full story.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
While members of TF Wildhorse were returning from a combat patrol they stumbled upon a large camp occupied by hundreds of Afghan children and adults. The camp was a "shanty town", composed mostly of wooden poles and cloth shelters. After stopping to investigate further, the soldiers noticed that the people appeared to be very tired and thirsty. SSG Anderson Munoz, the patrol squad leader later said "The people looked so thirsty and we felt so bad for them. We gave them everything we had, right down to the last Gatorade. We had just enough water left to make it back to base." About two days later the patrol returned to the camp and delivered humanitarian aid and water to the people. It was then learned that the people were displaced persons from another village from within Laghman province. Either by fear or mistrust, the people would not discuss the reason for the displacement. The camp elders told the soldiers that they had to walk to the nearest city, Mehtar Lam, to buy water and food. Right now the Squadron is looking at the feasibility of building a well in the camp and plans to establish a closer relationship with the people there throughout the deployment. We are also in the process of determining the reason for the displacement.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Members of the elite French Foreign Legion are conducting operations in a neighboring province. In order to share information and build cohesion we invited the Legionnaires to FOB Mehtar Lam for a visit. In this photo, Captain Nicholas Moran, TF Wildhorse S-3 plans (Operations Plans) discusses our area of interest with the Legionnaires. The Foreign Legion has a long and distinguished history. It is best known for accepting citizens from other countries who are willing to fight for France. It is also made up of French citizens (about 25%) and mostly commanded by French officers.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Below are two links provided by the Las Vegas Review Journal in reference to LTC Cunningham's initial impressions of his area of operations. Thanks to Mr. Keith Rogers of the RJ.
J.D. Johannes, an independent photojournalist gathering stories for Time Magazine and NBC, visited FOB Mehtar Lam last week for several days. J.D. has done extensive work on Iraq and Afghanistan with nearly two years as an embed. He has been wounded doing his work three times, one of those instances he was hit in the head with a bullet fragment while embedded with U.S. Marines in Faluja. J.D. traveled with the Wildhorse to the Watangatu Shura and did an outstanding story afterwards. His story is linked below. Great job J.D.!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
This is a good example of how treacherous some of the roads are here. The Provincial Reconstruction Team has paved and is in the process of paving several roads to help improve transportation and trade. I'll let the picture speak for itself. Fortunately nobody was injured during this incident.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The village of Watangatu has historically been a place where soldiers, police, and civilians have been attacked while traveling in the Alishang Valley. With the hopes of gaining the locals support in providing security to the area, the Wildhorse Squadron conducted an Operation in Watangatu. During the operation Wildhorse Troopers established an overnight presence near the village. The next day local government officials held a very successful shura in the Watangatu School. Upcoming projects in the area, agricultural development, and the upcoming election were the main topics of discussion and the locals seemed very optimistic. Afterwards humanitarian aid was distributed which mostly consisted of food and school supplies.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
1LT Andrew Simbeck, Platoon Leader for Maneuver PLT, HHT, gives a patrol brief to his soldiers just prior to leaving the wire. Behind 1LT Simbeck's left shoulder (gray T-shirt) is the Squadron Chaplain's Assistant, SGT Stanley Harvey. You may remember SGT Harvey as our MC during the activation ceremony. SGT Harvey has done an outstanding job supporting the Squadron's spiritual and morale needs during our tour. Following the brief SGT Harvey led the troopers in prayer and they mounted up for the mission.