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Minnesota National Guard
849th MAC conducts joint operation to support Afghan presidential election

Minnesota National Guard FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC, Afghanistan - On March 13, 2014, 1st Platoon, 849th Mobility Augmentation Company (MAC), a National Guard unit baesd in Litchfield, Minnesota, helped to clear a route in the vicinity of FOB Frontenac First Platoon's mission was simple - to assist the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in clearing routes so safe mobility is ensured throughout the region to all presidential election polling sites

Throughout Afghanistan, the upcoming election was a focal point in all military operations The election scheduled for April 5, 2014 was an important step toward Afghanistan's stable and peaceful future The US and other NATO forces have an enduring commitment to Afghanistan, and have pledged logistical and security support at the request of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA)

That is where units like 1st Platoon, 849th MAC, are essential The 849th MAC has been in Afghanistan since September 2013 Already, the 849th has endured a lot during its deployment Persevering through all of their setbacks, 1st Platoon continued to support mobility in their area of operation until they received orders to move to FOB Frontenac in Shah Wali Kot Province, Afghanistan

Since moving to FOB Frontenac, 1st Platoon conducts joint operations with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2/2CR) out of Vilseck, Germany The word "joint" cannot be emphasized enough; not only does First Platoon work with 2/2 CR, but they also conduct missions with Afghan National Secrutiy Forces and the Air Force EOD

Sgt Ryan Johnson, from Eden Valley, Minnesota, talks about the benefits of conducting joint operations

"Every time we go out with them (ANSF), they tend to find things that we don't," he said Staff Sgt Roger Peet, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, says that the reason ANSF are so skilled at finding IEDs is because they can more easily talk to the local populace and receive information from them

The added benefits of joint operations become extremely important as 1st Platoon continues participating in Operation Chamtoo III conducting route clearance missions

The platoon leader, Lt Lance Hauser, from Willmar, Minnesota, describes the process of securing routes for the election

"After we do our initial clearance, the ANSF keep the routes clear and continue to conduct patrols," he said

When asked how successful he believes their missions were, Hauser said, "I think they've been very successful in securing the routes and the local polling areas because the ANSF have established many checkpoints in the area and frequently patrol the routes"

Hauser is confident that their current mission will be successful as the result of the ANSF operations and their ability to independently operate

"They get a lot of visibility from the local populace I can only imagine that it brings a sense of security to the people in the area and brings a great sense of pride to those ANSF individuals," he said

However the election turns out, this fact remains true: the election will be an important piece of Afghanistan's history

April 4, 2014
by 2nd Lt Brenna Heisterman
65th Engineer Battalion

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