Magazine article Army

Operation Valiant Strike

Magazine article Army

Operation Valiant Strike

Article excerpt

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan-Operation Valiant Strike kicked off in the pre-dawn hours of March 20 when members of the 82nd Airborne Division's 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) air assaulted into the Sami Ghar Mountains.

"Don't let them bring it to you, you bring it to them," said Lt. Col. Charlie Flynn, commander, 2nd Battalion, 504th PIR (White Devils), referring to the enemy in a pep talk to his soldiers. The troopers then boarded a fleet of Chinooks that dropped them off in various locations in eastern Kandahar province.

The purpose of Valiant Strike is to clear and search villages, gather intelligence, search for weapons caches and seek out remaining al Qaeda and Taliban forces, said 1st Sgt. Brian Severino, Company B, 3rd Bn., 504th PIR (Blue Devils).

By the end of the third day, the long days, sleepless nights and sore feet paid off with more than 50 rifles, two heavy machine guns, 170 107-mm rockets and 400 82-mm mortar rounds under control, according to Combined Joint Task Force-180 spokesman Col. Roger King.

During the first day of Valiant Strike, Company B troops spent a greater part of the day searching the village of Laday.

The company commander, a civil affairs specialist and some soldiers located village elders and asked them to tell the heads of households to declare any weapons they had. Through a translator they explained that women would be separated in order to be searched by female soldiers and that houses would be searched for contraband.

"The ones they don't identify we are taking away from them," said Severino, in reference to hidden weapons sometimes found in the compounds.

In Laday, a village consisting of four small compounds, several goats, donkeys and large dogs, several weapons were found hidden in manure piles and haystacks, including two AK-47s with bags of ammunition and a dirty syringe.

Akter Mohammed, a 40-year-old shepherd, said the reason they did not declare their weapons was because they were scared.

"We don't know because we are mountain people," he said. "We need the guns to protect our sheep from the wolves, or they will eat my sheep."

Severino explained to the villagers that they did not need AK-47s to protect their sheep against wolves.

On March 21, Company B air assaulted into a riverbed near Narai, a large village with about 100 families. It was one of the wealthiest villages encountered, according to the village elders, with two wells and its own school building.

"For the most part these are the friendliest villagers we've found," Severino said, "they actually came out to offer assistance to us."

Shahghsy, a 50-year-old village elder said his people know the Americans come as friends.

"The Americans come to make peace in Afghanistan," he said. "When the Russians were here the Americans helped push the Russians out."

Although the village was friendly and the villagers brought pot after pot of tea out to thirsty soldiers, some houses were found to have more than simple, single-shot, home security weapons. …

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