PUZA-I-ESAN, Afghanistan – Living at a remote Afghan National Army outpost in northern Afghanistan, two U.S. Army Soldiers operate autonomously to ensure construction projects for ANA and Coalition soldiers are completed correctly and on time.
Specialists Daniel Booles, contracting officer representative, and Joseph Wagner, COR assistant, who are attached to the Regional Support Team-North at Camp Mike Spann, oversee mission-essential construction at combat outposts across northern Afghanistan. They support the Afghan National Security Forces in efforts to defeat the insurgents and secure the population.
Establishing these combat outposts is critical to the success of the ANSF as they assist with sustaining a presence in the region. This is an integral part of the counterinsurgency initiative, supporting the ANSF mission with the ability to clear an area, hold with security forces, and build support while protecting Afghans.
Team members monitor contracts to build and expand ANA combat outposts to ensure that supplies used to sustain forces are received and that correct construction materials are timely delivered. The pair serves as the RST’s eyes and ears, a critical task that comes with unique obstacles and challenges.
“Being dropped off at a Forward Operating Base without a vehicle, interpreter, and limited supplies definitely made our mission a challenge,” said Spc. Daniel Booles, a Fort Worth, Tex. native assigned to the 10th Mountain 1st Brigade 2-22 Infantry Delta Company from Fort Drum, N.Y. “Making sure equipment and supplies made it to the right locations by the contractors was an interesting experience.”
Ensuring timely delivery of materials by local contractors sometimes requires eliciting the assistance of international partners in the region while they dually work to organize logistical support from other U.S. units operating in the area.
“We had to coordinate with the Germans as well as the ANA to ensure delivery to Bashir Khan,” said Spc. Joseph Wagner, a Crittenden, Ky., native also assigned to 10th Mountain 1st Brigade 2-22 Infantry Delta Company from Fort Drum, N.Y. “I’m glad we were able to get everything done and I am ready for the next mission.”
Despite the remote location and austere conditions, the modest pair managed to ensure the completion of the combat outpost at Puza-i-esan, a critical project that directly contributed to bringing stability to an area that once served as a safe haven for insurgents.
“I liked the autonomy, it was nice to get out here and put our training to work,” Booles said.
Completing the complex project together brought the duo closer during their embedded experience with the ANA soldiers, where they were often the only familiar face each other had.
“I can’t ask for a better partner,” Booles said of his cohort. “We definitely formed a big brother – little brother relationship.”
Upon returning to their home base at Camp Mike Spann, the two-man team moves on to their next assignment: a 30-day project overseeing the expansion of living space for incoming troops at a 209th Corps combat operating post in Khilagay, Afghanistan.