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Story by: Lt. Col. Paul Fanning - TF Phoenix Public Affairs
Dated: Thu, Nov 6, 2008
CAMP PHOENIX, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN-- Members of a Camp Phoenix-based security force company in Kabul recently completed a long, round-trip convoy from Kabul to Farah in western Afghanistan -- a distance of more than 1,000 miles -- without enemy contact.
About 40 members of Company D, 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry successfully escorted members of an Embedded Training Team that were moving with their assigned Afghan National Army (ANA) unit to its forward deployed station. Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix (CJTF-Phoenix) provides mentors and trainers for the ANA and Police in Embedded Training Teams (ETTs) and Police Mentoring Teams (PMTs.) The task force also includes a battalion-size security force (SECFOR) that provides ETTs and PMTs with soldiers for protection during missions, as well as companies and platoons that help guard convoys and forward operating bases where ETTs and PMTs are based.
“We figured that the enemy took one look at the size of our convoy and knew we had plenty of fire power,” said Capt. Joe Merrill, the commander of Company D, comprised mostly of Guardsmen from the Ithaca, NY-based Company D, 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry. “They took a look and left us alone,” he said.
“Our numbers were a deterrent,” said 1st Sgt. James Meltz, from Hudson. “Large convoys discourage attacks. We were ready in case anything happened and nothing did.”
More than 90 vehicles including up armored humvees, MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) armored vehicles and ANA Light Tactical Vehicles (LTVs) pulled out from Kabul on October 24th. The headquarters of the 2nd Brigade, 207th Corps ANA along with the brigade’s Combat Service Support kandak (battalion) were moving to their base in western Afghanistan. Their team of U.S. trainers and mentors moved with them and SECFOR Delta troops in 10 armored vehicles rode shotgun.
Most convoys follow the famous “Ring Route” and this was no exception. The troops noted that many holes in the pavement from previous IED (Improvised Explosive Device) strikes had been filled in the stretch south of Kabul through Ghazni.
“The rough section of road was west of Kandahar,” said Capt. Merrill from Binghamton. “There are big holes and unpaved sections,” he added. “At one point we had to leave it (Ring Road) to travel on a parallel route.”
“There were places where we knew we were on original ‘Russian Road,’” said 1st Lt. Chris Marion, also from Binghamton. “The pavement in those areas goes back that long ago.”
“We finished the first part and then came back,” said Capt. Merrill. “We saw that a civilian convoy had gotten hit on the way from Kandahar heading north,” he said.
“Jingle trucks burnt to the frame,” added Lt. Marion. “But they didn’t try anything with us.”
Captain Merrill and his team returned to Camp Phoenix on October 28th. “At this point we have done almost 25 long range convoys, but this was the longest,” he said. “And, this was a large convoy.”
All told, Capt. Merrill feels that his company has completed 1000 combat missions, most were short distance movements. “But that is our job - provide the cover and protection,” he said.