Tuesday, January 12, 2010

U.S. troops and ANA help victims of insurgent violence

By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley Hawkins
Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – When U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Forsyth, the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, was notified of an improvised explosive device attack on civilians, Jan. 6, he put together a plan of action for the Coalition and Afghan forces to give their condolences and make sure the truth of the incident got to the Afghan people.

The IED injured four young Afghan girls as they were exiting their school in the Wat e Jabbarkheyl village. One of the girls later died from her wounds; she was only 13 years old.

With their Afghan counterparts, U.S. servicemembers from Forward Operating Base Kalagush in eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province attended the girl’s funeral, Jan. 7, to mourn her passing and to offer their condolences to the families affected by this tragedy.

“I think that it is...important for the local government and security forces to go out and express their condolences to the people,” said Forsyth, a Mayfield, Ky., native. “It is essential for the government to communicate that they do care and that the local population can depend on their own officials when they need them.”

“Our presence there made a difference because it let the local population know that we’re here to help them,” U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Guzman from Orlando, Fla., said. “It was crucial for the ANA to be there also, to let them know their military does care for them and it shows unity between Afghan forces and U.S. forces.”

The night following the insurgent attack on the four girls, the ones responsible for the attack sent messages claiming U.S. forces were responsible for the incident. The commander wanted to make sure the truth of what happened got to the public.

First thing the next morning, the sub-governor of the Nuraram District gave a radio address, telling his people about the assault and expressing his concerns and outrage on the matter.

After the funeral, the ANA handed out care packages containing blankets, toiletries and school supplies to the families and the surviving victims.

“We are all incredibly sorry about the killing in Wat e Jabbarkheyl village,” Forsyth said. “It was an extremely repulsive act and it disgusts me that anyone would do anything [of] that nature.”

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Capt. Rahmat Gul, an Afghan National Army commander, gives toiletries, snacks and school supplies to the children of the Wat e Jabbarkheyl village, in eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, after a funeral ceremony was held for a 13-year-old girl who was killed by an improvised explosive device, Jan. 7. U.S. forces and the ANA visited the village to express their condolences for the victims and their families, and also to strengthen relations with the local people. (Courtesy Photo)

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