FOB SHARANA, AFGHANISTAN: The 172 Infantry Brigade is headquartered on Forward Operating Base Sharana, SE of Kabul on the Pakistan border in Paktika Province. The 172nd Infantry is turning over the southern portion of Pakitika to the Afghan National Security Forces and the Nov. 3rd transfer of Combat Outpost Waza Kwha to the 2nd Kondak, 7th Zone Afghan Border Police officially made that happen. In terms of battle space this is the largest transfer thus far to the Afghan Security Forces.
In spite of skepticism from most of the news media, violence has been steadily dropping along this area of the Afghan-Pakistan border for the last two years. “For so long the war effort here has been shuffling along with no clear strategy,” said Maj. Joe Bucccino, the brigade public affairs officer (PAO). “On Nov. 3rd in south Pakitika province, the forces of the Afghan Border Police along with the 172nd Infantry demonstrated our exit strategy.”
FOB Sharana will remain the source of supply and repair for Pakitika as well as security for the portion not turned over to the Afghan National Security Forces.
PRT team stopped up along highway under construction for a possible IED.
Lt. Ryan DeCamp who hails from Plattsburgh is the public affairs officer (PAO) for the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) for Patikita. In his briefing for today’s mission, mention is made that the team is still recovering from the loss of two team members to an IED near the end of October. Later today the team did once again find themselves held up for a potential IED. The scout dog found something suspicious which prevented the team from completing its road inspection mission, leaving little time for the meetings in Sharan at the new government center and women's health training center.
“Our goal is to do the best that we can, for the time we are here,” said Lt. DeCamp.
Lt. Jason Brown of A, Co. 172 Support Battalion runs the Helicopter Landing Zone (HLZ) which ships people and supplies throughout their sector and connects with other military locations throughout Afghanistan. Much of the equipment and supply effort is carried out by slings under the larger helicopters like the Chinook.
Lt. Jason Brown with a Russian built MI-8 on the HLZ , FOB Sharana
“We sling loads from Sikorsky’s owned by Presidential Airways and Russian MI-17s contracted from a Colombian company,” said Lt. Brown, “and some of the pilots are from the old USSR and have actually flown here during the Russian-Afghan war in the l980s.”
This means that these same pilots who fought the Taliban for Russia now fight many of the same forces for the Americans.
Warrant Officer Scott –center- with his crew working on an older 155mm cannon.
Sgt Charles Ennin looking over a home made cannon captured previously from the insurgents.
172nd Support Battalion Armaments Section repairs large guns, mortars, handguns etc. Warrant Officer One, Scott Towne has a crew working on the older 155MM cannons from the Viet Nam era which are being fazed out. They are replaced by the M-777 medium towed howitzer which fires a 155MM. GPS guided ‘smart shell’.
“These 777s are much lighter so consequently much easier to maneuver than the old guns, and are digitally controlled,” he said.
Air Force 1st Lt. Ryan DeCamp, Provincial Reconstruction Team Paktika Public Affairs Officer, records video during a mission to meet with members of an Afghan Local Police outpost in the Sarobi District of Paktika Province, southeastern Afghanistan, Nov. 7th. The PRT’s mission is to link the province’s citizens with its government so they don’t turn to groups like the Taliban for economic development or conflict resolution. DeCamp, a Seton Catholic graduate, is stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo Provided)