KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan –– “Friendlies south of the smoke!” was the radio transmission sent from a forward observer to the nearby aircraft as 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Soldiers secured an observation post in support of a low-cost, low-altitude drop of drinking water Sept. 24 at Forward Operating Base Tagab, Kapisa Province, Afghanistan.
The LCLA drop was in support of much-needed water at an Afghan security guard observation post a few hundred meters above FOB Tagab. The climb to the OP took roughly an hour due to the drastic change in elevation.
Although the OP is a few hundred meters from FOB Tagab, the vertical climb is nearly 1,000 feet. First Platoon traveled in a series of switch backs to reach their destination. The climb up the difficult terrain turned the mission into an esprit de corps event.
“It was good for the platoon to get a chance to push through the climb as a team; I think it built some good camaraderie within the group,” said Spc. Rogelio Cruz-Loera, a joint fires observer with 1st Platoon.
“Plus, the mission required me to talk to the aircraft which I’m always prepared to do.”
Once the Soldiers reached the top, platoon leadership conducted a key leader engagement with the Afghan security guard leadership who already occupied the OP. The platoon learned more about the geographical area of Tagab district from the meeting.
“The mission to the OP was a great morale boost for the platoon as well as a chance to get a better understanding of the area of operations,” said 1st Lt. Donald Johnson. “The Soldiers were excited to walk up the mountain, get a nice workout session early in the morning, and help the security guards acquire some much-needed supplies.”
A Caribou cargo aircraft conducted the drop. The joint fires observer on the ground informed the aircraft where the friendly units were in reference to the smoke.
Furthermore, the aircraft received an ingress direction to allow the cargo to land on favorable terrain so recovering it would be smoother.
The travel from the OP back down to the FOB took roughly 30 minutes since the route was all downhill. The platoon was glad to accomplish the task as well as a physical workout.