Army Guard members take back Sangar valley one footstep at a time
By Army National Guard Spc. Leslie Goble
45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (10/25/11) – More than 600 Soldiers in search of insurgent activity, weapons caches, and material used to make homemade explosives, are making another big push to secure Laghman province's Sangar Valley.
Children in the Sangar Valley reach out to soldiers from 1st Brigade 201st Corps, Afghan National Army and Soldiers form 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they walk back to the mouth of the valley on Oct. 2, 2011. The ANA and 45th IBCT worked together to clear the valley of insurgent activity and to show the local villagers that they are committed to fighting the insurgency wherever it may be. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Leslie Goble)
The joint operation included Soldiers from 1st Brigade, 201st Corp, Afghan National Army and the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
"We are trying to disrupt insurgent activities in the Sangar Valley," said Army Capt. Morgan Ashworth, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 179 Infantry, 45th IBCT. "The ANA increases their interaction with the people, showing them that their forces can protect them and they know how to conduct large scale operations like these against their enemies."
Crowds of men and children watched from their rooftops and lined the streets. They greeted both Afghan and American soldiers with handshakes and smiles.
In the mostly peaceful villages of Sangar, Soldiers searched houses, businesses and fields. During the search, the villagers were grateful and spoke to the Soldiers, even offered food as they passed through.
Villagers came out to see the Soldiers during every step of their march in and out of the valley. Many of them were children cheering and holding their thumbs up as soldiers passed by.
"We are all out visiting with you," said a local villager while talking to Soldiers. "We like you guys. If we didn't like you we would all leave."
Afghan and U.S. soldiers did find an improvised explosive device making facility in a house within the village. Among the findings were several AK 47s, ammunition, knives and bomb-making materials.
"I am hoping this mission will help free the local population from insurgent control," Ashworth said. "They currently have a stronghold and by showing them that the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are here and willing to take an active role in their safety and security, slowly bringing them out of that insurgent control and into a positive and strong relationship with [the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan]."
Most of the fighting took place in the mountains surrounding the Sangar Valley. Insurgents attacked outlying positions, but they had little effect on the Soldiers who returned fire and called in airstrikes. No Soldiers or civilians were injured during the engagement.
The commitment to ensure the safety of village members in the Sangar Valley warranted an Afghan-lead patrol base to be built near the mouth of it; giving the population a hasty response to insurgent activity.