My company, Delta of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas deployed to Afghanistan as a part of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command ready force. To put it more simply: we are the fire extinguisher for all of Afghanistan.
We spent the majority of our Independence Day, the day we were deployed, aboard a plane headed to Afghanistan thinking that if we were to engage the enemy we would come in weapon’s blazing similar to the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan.
It was an exciting mission set for us out of the gate; our soldiers had received the finest military training the United States Army had to offer and we knew that wherever we would be going, we would be coming as an ‘expletive’ hammer (as it was put to me by someone of much higher rank) to neutralize any enemy threat.
Instead, my company was activated to go and secure the United States Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan following a terrorist attack that left four dead and numerous others wounded. Rather than working with the United States Army for the majority of the time out here in Regional Command West, we hung our rifles next to the olive branches of the State Department.
This mission, which had sounded sexy from the outset, was soon turning into, as most of our other brothers in arms were also finding out, a socio-political one that none of us were really expecting.
From the second we stepped off the helicopter into a compound that was literally designed to be a diplomatic city on a hill, we were greeted by a plethora of agencies from inside and outside the U.S. government.
One thing unique about all of these agencies is how well they have managed to work together in greater partnership with one driving goal: the safety and security of the Americans remaining on the ground at the U.S. Consulate. It also doesn’t hurt that the Department of State and Department of Defense are enjoying the best working relationship the two have had together in some fifty years.
Throughout our time here we have worked with agencies of both departments and many more; we have conducted operations with the Marines, Navy SEALs, the Spanish and Italian armies and the FBI.
The moment we got off the C-130 aircraft at a nearby airbase, we boarded Spanish Helicopters that dropped us off literally in the U.S. Consulate’s front yard. Our soldiers have shared outposts with Navy SEAL snipers and with Salvadoran contractors. We have partnered with the Afghan National Army’s engineers and infantry as well as the Afghan National Police’s finest in order to strengthen their fighting positions, and, in turn, strengthen the security of the Americans on the ground here.