Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Commandos lend helping hand to Kandahar villagers

by Sgt. Michael J. Nyeste

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 13, 2008) – Commandos of the 205th Commando Kandak are the tip of the spear for the Afghan National Army on the mountainous battlefields of Afghanistan. The Commando’s leadership isn’t limited to defeating insurgents in battle. They’re also lending a hand to villagers in need of a little help. The Commandos, with the help of Coalition forces, visited the village of Mandi Sar in the Kandahar District, Kandahar province, Sept. 8, to distribute humanitarian aid, religious items and toys for children. “We went in to help the people and help their quality of life,” said Capt. Mohammed Ahasn, 2nd Company, 205th Afghan National Army Corps commando. “We wanted to help on as many levels as possible.”

Before entering the village, the Commandos and Coalition forces set up a security perimeter to prevent any insurgents from disrupting the humanitarian assistance mission, said a Special Forces team commander with Combined Joint Special Operations Forces- Afghanistan.

Once security had been established, their initial entry into the village was greeted with apprehension and fear from the children. Slowly, curiosity took over and children began to pour out of the compounds to interact with Commandos. The Commandos developed an instant connection with the children by showing them their equipment. “One of the Commandos told them ‘If you want to have this equipment and wear this uniform, you need to go to school and when you grow up, serve your country like us and you can have all of this,” Ahasn said.

“The Commandos were received well by the people,” said the team commander. “The people could see the unity with the different tribes and ethnicities wearing the same uniform. They left a good impression.”

While the Commandos interacted with kids, Commando leadership gathered village elders and adult males to discuss issues within the village and to listen to two speeches given by the Kandak’s unit Mullah. “My respectful Afghans, the Taliban want to create distance between us,” the Mullah said during a speech. “They are trying to ambush from villages and civilian areas. As a result of this action, there are a lot of civilians getting killed and homes destroyed. Our National Army fought, and is still fighting, against these elements to protect our civilians.”

After the speech concluded, villagers gathered around the supply trucks to receive aid and supplies. Korans were handed out to the village’s spiritual leaders by the kandak Mullahan and prayer rugs were distributed to the adults. The prayer rugs were received especially well by villagers because of the current Ramadan holiday.

A young Afghan girl receives an educational book from an Afghan Commando during a humanitarian assistance mission in the Mandi Sar village, Kandahar province Sept. 8.Once the adults had received their spiritual goods, it was time for the kids to receive their educational supplies and other treats. Posters and school supplies were handed out along with soccer and volley balls. An air pump was even on site to inflate the sports balls. “Those kids grabbed whatever they possibly could,” said a Special Forces team sergeant with CJSOTF-A. “It’s not everyday people roll into a village and hand out free stuff.”

Many of the children said “Tashakur” upon receiving their gifts from Commandos and many sported big, broad smiles while holding their newest possessions. “The mission was a success,” Asahn said. “We didn’t go for a fight. We went to help. The goal of the mission was peace. We left them with a good impression. Everything we said though, we have to keep our word. People will support us when we keep that word. They expect us to back up words with actions.”

“The Commandos made it clear to the villagers that they have the Afghan people’s best interest at heart when they reached out to help them today,” said Army Lt. Col. Christian Karsner, Task Force- 71 commander. “They’ll continue to serve their countrymen, whether it’s providing safety and security through battle with insurgents or handing out aid, Afghan Commandos will be there to protect and serve.”

A young Afghan girl receives an educational book from an Afghan Commando during a humanitarian assistance mission in the Mandi Sar village, Kandahar province Sept. 8.

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary's News and Ideas. Digg! Digg!

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