05 August 2005

Army Engineers Bridge Cities in the 'Stan

The “How come I didn't hear about this from the MSM?” file keeps getting fatter and fatter.

Another successful humanitarian operation by U.S. Armed Forces – Army Engineer Battalions to be exact – is nearing completion. No, this isn’t the reconstruction of a road destroyed by bombing runs, it is the initial construction of a road between two majors cities in the ‘Stan. CENTCOM reports:
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - One of the most encouraging successes of the United States Military presence in Afghanistan is the approaching completion of the TK Road, a road bringing together the cities of Kandahar and Tarin Kowt. Coalition forces have been dedicated to connecting Afghanistan by road, a task that has spanned 14 months and 117 kilometers.

With elections on the horizon, extending transportation routes into more rural areas of Afghanistan will play an essential role in encouraging the democratic process. Election dates have been pushed back twice due at least in part to the logistical difficulties of coordinating between provinces. Success in road construction here means not only making day to day life easier for the citizens; it facilitates the success of the first democratically elected government in Afghanistan.

The work on the TK road has been the focus of two different Army Engineer rotations. Road construction began during Operation Enduring Freedom 5 with the 528th Engineer Battalion, from Louisiana. They competed 46.5 kilometers of road between July 2004 and February 2005. During OEF 6, Task Force Pacemaker Engineers took over construction. The Task Force is composed of active and reserve units of Alpha and HSC Companies of the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion Heavy (Fort Lewis, Wash.), Charlie Company C/ 864th ECB (H) (Fort Richardson, Alaska), Alpha Company/391st Light Engineer Battalion (U.S. Army Reserve, Ashville, N.C.), Company C/926th Engineers (AR, Huntsville, Ala.), and the 298th Engineer Detachment (National Guard, Pearl City, Hawaii).

Talk about a coalition! Units from Hawaii, Alabama, Washington, Alaska, North Carolina all contributing to build a road that they will likely never use once their service is up. Awesome.

Task Force Pacemaker took over the construction in April, and will have completed a remarkable 70 kilometers of road work through some of the most difficult terrain the country has to offer. Initial estimations put project completion somewhere in the spring of 2006, but efforts of the Pacemakers under Lt. Col. Paul M. Paolozzi, have moved the date to Sept. 15, just days prior to the new election date. The Pacemakers consider that achievement a victory in the war on terror. “The best weapons of the Taliban are not IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), its ignorance and isolation,” said Paolozzi. “The road we’re building destroys both of those weapons by giving the people freedom of mobility and the capability to learn what the Afghani government is doing for them. They won’t need to be dependant on the Taliban for information, twisted thinking, or municipal support.”

Continued development is essential to any post-electoral agenda for peace building in Afghanistan. No matter the outcome of elections, the extension of routes into rural Afghanistan provides much potential in strengthening the new government’s credibility. The completion of the road couldn’t come at a better time.
Once again, the MSM fails to point out the good work done by our service members abroad. What a shame.

As always, thanks to The Mudville Gazette for their Open Post.

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