Story and photo by Sgt. Courtney Selig
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md.- With the number of soldiers decreasing overseas, the mission has shifted and welcomed a new type of team to ensure a seamless transition.
Team Bluetick, a Security Force Assistant Adviser Team from First Army Division East, and Occupational Coordination Center – Provincial Nuristan staff recently conducted a site survey of the Nuristan Provincial Capital, Parun.
During this visit, they assessed the current and planned infrastructure to determine the feasibility of co-locating Nuristan with the provincial headquarters in Parun.
Nuristan, known as the “Land of the Light,” is treacherous with its sheer cliffs sheltered by the spurs of the Eastern Hindu Kush. Its terrain, comprised of nearly 99 percent mountains, leaves only the most minimal amount of flat land.
“Our mission is to train and advise our Afghanistan counterparts of Nuristan on how to coordinate both air and ground operations with all elements of the Afghanistan National Army, Afghanistan Border Police, Afghanistan National Police and their National Directorate of Security,” said MAJ Lucas Morales, Team Operations and Communications Officer, First Army Division East, a native of Kellogg, Idaho.
Team Bluetick and other SFA ATs mentor and assist Afghan National Security Forces as they take the lead in conducting security operations. The SFA ATs are a key step in continuing efforts to improve ANSF capability and to help them assume responsibility for the security of Afghanistan.
“One of our significant challenges is assisting the OCC-P to overcome the significant geographical challenges of this province and improve their communications with the Provincial Capital of Parun,” Morales said. All parties continue to explore options for a combined facility.
Morales said the relationship between Team Bluetick and OCC-P Nuristan is strong. He went on to say the OCC-P not only understands the SFA AT member’s mission, but they welcome it since they have not had the assistance of an Advisor Team in the past.
“As with all good relationships, it helps both teams learn and expand to improve their capabilities,” said Morales. “The biggest advantage is that the OCC-P wants to learn and wants to help their province and country.”
The SFA ATs, teams of highly trained officers and noncommissioned officers, mentor and advise Afghan Army and Police units as they conduct security operations. SFA ATs began training in mid-January 2012 and deployed in Spring, 2012. A second iteration is planned this fall.
First Army Division East is responsible for the overall mission of mobilizing, training, validating, and deploying Reserve Component Soldiers around the globe and demobilizing them upon their return home. Last year, First Army Division East mobilized more than 20,000 Soldiers and demobilized almost 26,000.