Channel 2 News Reporter
6:33 AM AKDT, April 7, 2012
FOB Salerno, Afghanistan
Hope you were able to catch our liveshot during the Newshour on Friday! Right after we were finished photographer Albert Lutan and I went out on patrol with a platoon from the 4-25.
We stayed pretty close to FOB Salerno, but it was still a fascinating experience.
The 4-25 has been trying to stand aside and let the Afghan security forces take charge of patrolling their land.
Four days ago one of the Afghan Uniformed Police members was injured by an IED blast. Today the AUP requested 4-25 troops assist them in patrolling an area they believe might be where the bomb was triggered from.
We first stopped at a temporary road block controlled by the AUP. The Afghanis checked each car for anything suspicious before letting it continue down the roadway.
Then it was on to a village where the AUP began going house-by-house checking for any cell phones, cell phone parts, videos or anything else that looked suspicious and could have been used to trigger an IED.
The AUP seemed to do pretty well for a while, taking initiative and leading the search. After a while, though, the 4-25 platoon helping them had to prod them along more and more.
Lt. Matthew Hickey, who is on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, said he has seen a lot of improvement in the way the Afghanis are able to patrol themselves.
Eventually the soldiers come across a house that has markings on the outside known to be suspicious. Inside they find multiple SIM cards from Pakistan (only a few dozen kilometers away) but no phones to go with them.
There was no condemning evidence, but it was still suspicious.
One of the main players for the 4-25 on this patrol is not actually from the US or Alaska.
"John" Sadat has been a linguist, or translator, for the military for 5 years now. He's an Afghani from Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
He's considered "one of the guys," and speaks fluent English.
I asked him what he plans to do once the US leaves Afghanistan in 2014. He said he and his family will have to leave the country. If the Taliban starts taking over again he says his family won't be safe.
He wants to come to the US, but says the paperwork is overwhelming and may not go through and is considering several other countries.
I was surprised with as many years he's helped the US, he's still facing an uphill battle trying to move to the US.
The AUP and 4-25 cleared the first village around 11am with no major breakthroughs trying to find evidence from that IED attack.
After that we headed to an AUP checkpoint high up on a hill where the Afghanis served us a huge lunch.
We sat on the floor in one of the checkpoint rooms where they served us flat bread, fresh veggies and fried chicken. One of the soldiers said I "should have seen" the look on my face as they laid everything out. The whole experience was like nothing I'd ever seen before, so I'm sure I looked a little stunned.
The food was very good though!
After lunch we made our way back to FOB Salerno where Albert and I interviewed the 4-25 commanders. The platoon we spent the morning with refueled and headed back out again.
In all it was only a few hours that we were out of the base, but it felt like a very full day.
We've got another one ahead of us today, and of course you know it'll be a good day when it starts with a helicopter ride ;)
Talk to you soon
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