PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A platoon from the Afghan National Army’s 3rd Coy, 1st Kandak, and 2nd Platoon of Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Lethal of the Iowa Army National Guard, have formed a partnership that is already producing meaningful results.
Acting on information gathered from the Guardians of Peace program in Zormat District on Feb. 5, the units uncovered two sandbags containing multiple complete improvised explosive devices, one incomplete IED, a large improvised claymore-type mine, a mortar round and two anti-tank mines.
This is one of three caches found in the last week by the 3rd Coy and Co. C.
“The recent cache finds ... were driven by intelligence gathered by the ANA,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Smith, a platoon sergeant for 2nd Plt., Co. C. “The Guardians of Peace tip was a result of the ANA handing out information cards with phone numbers.”
Guardians of Peace is a program used by Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces to receive information about insurgent activity. Local villagers get information from flyers and cards providing instructions on how to contact ANSF and coalition forces if insurgent activity is observed.
When an individual participates, the information is delivered without personally identifying information that may put that person at risk of repercussions by insurgent forces.
A tip was received by the ANA through this program that insurgents were moving explosives and IEDs around an abandoned home close to the Mamuzi health clinic near Bar Janek Kheyl Village in eastern Zormat.
The caller kept watch on the activity of the insurgents while the ANA informed 2nd Plt., Co. C, of the situation. The ANA and coalition forces could not act immediately due to weather but spent the day planning what to do as soon as the weather cleared.
The next morning the security forces headed to the Mamuzi clinic.
The ANA searched both the abandoned home as well as some sink holes near it, thinking the pits would be good places to hide things.
First Lt. Pallawan, a platoon leader for 3rd Coy, jumped into one of these sink holes and found fresh footprints. He began digging with his hands then some of his soldiers jumped in to help. After a few minutes, they found something.
“They found two large sandbags,” said Smith, commenting on the source of the IED-making materials. “We immediately cleared the area of civilians and sent a small search party to exploit the site.”
Once the cache was unearthed the evidence was photographed and the ANA carefully bagged it to avoid contamination.
Before leaving the village, Pallawan held an impromptu meeting with the primary healthcare provider of the Mamuzi health clinic, the night watchman on duty the night prior, villagers and elders.
Pallawan showed the elders the contents of the cache, placing emphasis on the land mines.
“This stuff is getting buried in your backyard,” explained Pallawan. His comments focused on the fact that land mines don’t discriminate; anyone could be affected by them. He emphasised the need for the villagers to report any insurgent activity they see as any villager could get hurt by the explosives.
The ANA and coalition forces returned to base where an explosive ordinance disposal team destroyed the munitions, and the IEDs were packaged and sent to Bagram Airfield for forensic testing.
Smith and his platoon were happy to do their job working with the ANA.
“Any day that you take eight IEDs out of the fight is a good day for us,” said Smith.