Cavalry Squadron Nicknamed Themselves The Gypsies

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By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs

When 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron nicknamed themselves the Gypsies, they probably knew they would be travelling in search of the enemy. But when these Gypsies team up with the Afghan National Security Forces, they don’t travel light. They roll into combat packing a powerful combination of the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, National Directorate of Security, Polish close combat air support, and U.S. Air Force fighter jets. Alone, just one of these elements can be deadly to the enemy, but combined they deliver a devastating blow.

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GHAZNI PROVINCE, AfghanistanAn Afghan National Army soldier listens to Taliban radio communications that he intercepted during a fire fight that occurred during joint operations. The operation was planned, organized, and executed by Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron Soldiers, to search for Taliban insurgents and illegal weapons. (Photos by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs)

Taliban insurgents felt the brunt of this blow April 26, in Qala Ye Serkh village and April 27, in Qala Wali village during combined cordon and search operations. The operations were lead by the1st Infantry Kandak, 3rd Brigade, of the 203rd Corps ANA, with the mentorship of the cavalry Soldiers, and supported by the other ANSF, Polish and U.S. air elements. The operation was part of a three-day initiative, which was planned, organized, and executed by the ANA Kandak and the cavalry Soldiers, to search for Taliban insurgents and illegal weapons.

“Our mission is to find suspects, push the enemy out of the village, separate the Taliban from the civilians, show the power of the government to the people and show them the government is behind them to keep them safe,” said ANA Capt. Saeed Zalmi, commander, 2nd Company, 1st Kandak.

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GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan U.S. Army Pfc. Jared Blair, the platoon medic for 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron help safely direct an Afghan National Army Soldier away from a medical evacuation helicopter. Blair, of Isle Lamotte, Vt., and the ANA soldier were helping with the medical evacuation of an Afghan National Policeman who was wounded by an improvised explosive device, April 26. They were part of a joint operation that was planned, organized, and executed by Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and U.S. Soldiers, to search for Taliban insurgents and illegal weapons. (Photos by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs)

The Afghan Army provided outer security for the village while the NDS provided vital information to the police. The police, who by Afghan law are the only ones with search authority, conducted the actual search of the houses in the village.

“The commander was able to multi-task and had overall control over the different (ANSF) elements,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Seymour, who mentored Zalmi and the 2nd Company directly. “I was impressed with how he controlled the operation. You could tell that he had the respect of his men.”

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GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan Members of 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron and the 2nd Company of the 1st Infantry Kandak, 3rd Brigade, of the 203rd Corps Afghan National Army watch over the Qala Wali village during an operation. During the operation, which was planned, organized and executed by the U.S. Troops and the ANA, the Afghan National Police searched the village for insurgents and illegal weapons. (Photos by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs)

On both days of the operation, insurgents fired mortars at the police as they were exiting the village. The Afghan Army responded with mortars of their own, wounding at least one insurgent. The only injuries sustained by the ANSF were the result of an Improvised Explosive Device, which hit a police truck. Five policemen sustained minor injuries.

The medical evacuation helicopter team was called to evacuate one Afghan soldier who had a shrapnel injury to his knee. The evacuation, which was completed within minutes of the attack, was executed so efficiently it looked like a training exercise. The soldier’s injuries were not life threatening, but he was flown out to ensure his safety and prevent further injury, said U.S. Army Pfc. Jared Blair, the platoon medic who is from Isle Lamotte, Vt.

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GHAZNI PROVINE, Afghanistan U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Mulcahey, a platoon sergeant, looks through binoculars as U.S. Army Sgt. Louis Beveraggi, a cavalry scout, prepares to fire a Javelin missile at a suspected mortar team, and U.S. Army Spc. Seth Green, also a cavalry scout, acts as his spotter. The Soldiers were aiming at suspects they believed fired mortar rounds at Afghan National Army Soldiers and Afghan National Policemen. The 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron Soldiers; Mulcahey from Rutland Vt., Beveraggi of North Adams, Mass., and Green of St. Albans, Vt., were part of a joint operation with ANA to search for Taliban insurgents and illegal weapons. (Photos by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs)

While the Afghan Army and police conducted their mission on the ground, the cavalry Soldiers provided security at the command post and gave suggestions to the commander during the operation.

“The purpose we serve is to mentor. We make suggestions and act as a combat multiplier,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Mulcahey, of Rutland, Vt., the lead mentor for the ANA Kandak and platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon. Mulcahey was by the commander’s side during the whole operation, helping him with key decisions.

In addition, the cavalry Soldiers also provided the link between Zalmi and the support elements executing the planning and communication on the ground with Polish artillery, U.S. Air Force air support, U.S. Army route clearance and medical evacuations.

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GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan U.S. Army Spc. Mark Leonard, the squad designated marksman for 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron, provides security with his M-14 Enhanced Battle Rifle. Leonard, of Brattleboro, Vt., was part of a joint operation planned, organized, and executed by Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and U.S. Soldiers, to search for Taliban insurgents and illegal weapons. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs)

The cavalry Soldiers also had another weapon in their arsenal, the Polish close combat air support, which was provided by two Hind helicopters. For this coordination, the cavalry Soldiers had U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alberto Gastona, a joint terminal attack controller from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron based in Syracuse, N.Y., on the ground to coordinate directly with the Hind pilots.

Gaston keenly guided the pilots directly to the sight of the mortar attack, and the booms of the mortars were quickly silenced. When Gaston signed off with the Polish pilots at the end of the operation in the first day he offered his insight into the enemy’s thought process.

“Tommy Gun, thanks for your support today,” he said “I guess if I had two Hinds flying over me, I’d run and hide too.”

Ironically, this sentiment was echoed toward the end of the final day of the operation when the Kandak soldiers intercepted Taliban radio communications, and the Taliban themselves confirmed Gaston’s intuition.

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GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan U.S. Army Pfc. Jared Blair, the platoon medic for 3rd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1-172 Cavalry Squadron helps with the medical evacuation of an Afghan National Policeman who was wounded by an improvised explosive device. Blair, of Isle Lamotte, Vt., participated in a joint operation that was planned, organized, and executed by Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and U.S. Soldiers, to search for Taliban insurgents and illegal weapons. (Photos by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs)

“They are telling them not to come out and to hide because of the helicopters,” a U.S. Army interpreter translated.

This just goes to show that as their nickname implies, the 3rd Platoon Gypsies may not stay in one place, but when they do come they bring a force to be reckoned with, and the impression they leave behind is there to stay.

By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes, Task Force Wolverine Public Affairs

Military Friends of NewsBlaze originated these stories, sending them directly to us from Iraq, some from Afghanistan and some in the USA.