Joint patrols hinder threats to Kandahar

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Lockoski
  • 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
As a golden sun falls behind a cluster of mountains north of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, a foot patrol team of international airmen comb through surrounding villages, farm fields and terrain occupying the area's ancient dry lake bed. They make use of what little daylight is left.

Working into the night, the Afghan air force security forces airmen of Kandahar Air Wing, trained and accompanied by U.S. Air Force security forces advisers, provide the force protection necessary to support the base defense of Kandahar Airfield and the 30,000 people who live and work here.

"These patrols are important because they build a relationship with the local population," said Capt. Steve Brenoskie, the senior security forces adviser for the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group. "Ultimately, that's what's going to make them successful in preventing insurgent activity aimed at Kandahar Airfield, such as indirect rocket fire and improvised explosive device placement."

Kandahar Air Wing's airmen are a separate force protection asset from the Kandahar Airfield NATO-led command and control organization, which is under command of the commander of Kandahar Airfield and Headquarters.

They are responsible for perimeter security, entry control and ramp security of their own wing which is attached to the main airfield. Additionally, to integrate with COMKAF force protection personnel, the airmen began patrolling and conducting delivered operations within the ground defense area outside of the installation, Brenoskie said, so they can eventually take over the task from coalition forces.

"There are tons of things that happen during a patrol that are beneficial during interaction among community members around the airfield," Brenoskie said.

"The airmen learn who the power brokers are in the villages -- the elders, the leaders," he said. "They also gather information about potential insurgents who may be hiding amongst the villages within the ground defense area."

Statistically, the airmen's patrols have a direct correlation with the number of rocket attacks against Kandahar AF. In the spring, their joint efforts during operations helped seize six insurgents, which was followed by a month of no indirect fire here, Brenoskie said.

Although recently, Kandahar Airfield received more indirect fire in August than any other month since 2006, the team helped capture four insurgents earlier in the month. This achievement triggered a halt in attacks here until the Muslim-observed holiday Eid ul Fitr.

To prepare the Afghan team for patrolling and subsequent operations, their advisers emphasize squad and individual movement tactics, react-to-contact drills and weapons familiarization during 10 days of specialized patrol training.

Bernoskie and three other Air Force security forces advisers from the 738th AEAG have developed the patrol team from a group of 200 Afghan airmen they oversee.

"There are some setbacks to having a 4:200 ratio, but the four of us have vast experience in different areas," Bernoskie said. "We come together and do what security forces do best -- more with less, and make it work. We continue to make a lot of progress with the Afghan airmen."

The Afghan Air Force also receives help from U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 1st Platoon, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Division. Together they conduct patrols a few times each week during day and evening hours and train together frequently.