200 Days Task Force Kunduz - Course of Deployment of 2nd Infantry Company
(1) General Remarks From June 2011 until January 2012, 2nd/Mechanized Infantry Demonstration Battalion 92 was employed as infantry company, Task Force Kunduz III in Afghanistan. It hence formed part of 26th and 27th DEUCONISAF. During the entire period of deployment, the company formed part of RC North's operation "TOLO AFTAB III". This article is a summary of the experience made during the last four months of deployment and looks back on the entire deployment.
(2) Area Responsibility in CHAHAR DARREH This section explains the company's conduct of operations between August and December 2011. Readers not familiar with the location are recommended to use a map of the CHAHAR DARREH (CDR) district, since part of the following deliberations are very detailed rendering them potentially difficult to reconstruct and a bit arid. Late August 2011, the fourth phase of area responsibility started for 2nd company. In the first months of deployment, we had already conducted patrols in the entire southern part of CDR, reconnoitered the northern edge of ALIABADS (ALB), and patrolled the northern part of CDR up to a line NAWABAD – CHADRAN – KHAR QARA – QARA YATIM. For the first time, we succeeded in this phase of area responsibility in reaching AQ SARAY and CHADRAN up to HAJI SHARIF HILL, and in bringing the Afghan National Army (ANA) to join us on our patrols into northern CDR. In addition, we conducted three company operations in NAWABAD, a city of 15,000 inhabitants, and at that time considered an INS stronghold. Outstanding was a 36-hour operation ("OMED III") during which a pincer movement to CHURAQ was conducted, followed by a partnered patrol into the heart of NAWABAD. Beside the dismounted company command section and the reinforced infantry platoon Bravo, elements of an ANA company including their Belgian mentoring team, two sections of the Afghan National Police (ANP), three representatives of the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), one sniper squad and engineers were employed within NAWABAD. The dismounted forces within NAWABAD totaled approximately 70. Surveillance forces of Mechanized Infantry Platoon Charlie came in addition, which had taken up positions at the southern edge of NAWABAD and employed the MIKADO UAV. Furthermore, the Joint Fire Support Team (JFST) and reconnaissance company forces were employed for surveillance at Observation Post (OP) MUNSTER reconnoitered by company forces. On 09 September 2011, the Afghan national day of remembrance of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the renowned resistance fighter against the Taliban, the reinforced Infantry Platoon Bravo started a mounted/dismounted operation in ISA KHEL. During this operation, two DINGO doors were to be recovered, remains of the Good Friday ambush of 2010 that were still in the village. Mechanized Infantry Platoon Charlie was employed at Combat Outpost (COP) QUATLIAM as near-by reserve. Towards 10:30hrs, shortly after recovering the doors, the company was informed that a reconnaissance patrol of the recce company had come under IED attack on the western plate near NAWABAD and at least one German soldier had been wounded. The operation in ISA KHEL was immediately aborted, and after a coordination halt at height 432, where the company commander's C2 vehicle, the mobile emergency physician team (MEPT), the CG20 jammer, the EOD forces and the JFST were integrated into Charlie Platoon already there. The Marder infantry combat vehicle up front overheated and failed at a bottleneck on LOC KAMINS shortly before reaching the WESTPLATTE (western plate) plateau. The following MARDER pushed it off the road – at the risk of damaging the cooling system – and we could move on. When approaching the WESTPLATTE, we were accompanied by USA BLACK HAWK helicopters which shortly before we arrived at the site of attack began to land and had picked up the wounded soldier. Let me express deep respect at this point for the helicopter crews which did not hesitate to land in "hot zones" accepting high personal risks and thus often preventing a heavier toll! After the ICVs had established all-around security at the site of attack, EOD search started to minimize the threat of secondary IEDs. Recovery forces inserted by IRF from PRT KDZ loaded the destroyed ENOK onto a heavy equipment transporter (HET) and then evaded under our surveillance. Contrary to the original operational planning for the company, I ordered Infantry Platoon Bravo to take night force configuration at the WESTPLATTE and – under poor visibility – to conduct light reconnaissance patrols at the eastern edge of NAWABAD to avoid a sensation of triumph on the side of the enemy. That night, a BM1 rocket fired from the north-eastern part of ISA KHEL impacted in the immediate vicinity of camp KDZ. A post blast analysis conducted in the village on 11 September 2011 in cooperation with ANA, ANP and BEL OLMT yielded no result. That same night, another rocket was fired in the direction of the PRT. Subsequently, 2nd and 3rd company alternately employed sniper teams together with further infantry forces moving into observation points at ISA KHEL. These did not yield particular reconnaissance results, but at least temporarily prevented further rockets being fired at the camp. On the occasion of a large-scale Shura at DHQ KDZ on 06 September 2011, attended by the district governor and the chief of police of the CHAHAR DARREH (CDR) district as well as the commanders of, the BEL mentoring team and of TF KDZ, responsibility for southern CDR was officially transferred to ANA. Transfer of height 432 to ANA on 17 September 2011 marked the final conclusion of the transfer of responsibility. This freed the last DEU forces in CDR tied down in a stationary COP and made them available for company operations in the sequel.
The fifth phase of area responsibility was again marked by a focus on NAWABAD. In addition, another two one-day operations were conducted together with ANA in southern CDR during which UXOs were found and disposed of. The peak of this phase of area responsibility was a 90-hour company operation with three reinforced platoons and the sniper teams assuming positions in and around NAWABAD. The decision for "OMED V" was: "2nd/Inf TF KDZ will conduct reconnaissance operation in NAWABAD, with mixed Infantry Platoon Alpha in compound IVO J81 (here center of gravity), with Infantry Platoon Bravo in compound IVO TF92, with mixed Mechanized Infantry Platoon Charlie in vehicle star formation south of RTE KIWI, under surveillance by Joint Fire Support Team and EW assets from OP MUNSTER and Reconnaissance Squad from OP MUEHLBERG, with the platoons alternately serving as each other's reserve, the DHQ being held by combat support forces from 27100sep11 until NET 011200oct11 in order to increase pressure on INS in the area and create the prerequisites for a Task Force Operation. For the operation, numerous supporting forces were assigned to the company or ordered to cooperate, including a JFST, a Tactical PSYOP Team (TPT), a Tactical CIMIC Team (TCT), a Mobile Emergency Physician Team (MEPT), an EOD Team, an EOC Team, a CG20 jammer, two engineer squads, one BÜFFEL armored recovery vehicle, the Female Engagement Team (FET) accompanied by US scouts and snipers, the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT) from MAZAR-E-SHARIF (MES), a reconnaissance squad of the reconnaissance company, one EMU and one KUCKUCK of the EW forces and three ANP squads. I commanded approximately 230 DEU and USA soldiers on more than 50 combat vehicles. In addition came the temporarily integrated BEL OMLT, ANA, media representatives, the members of a fact-finding mission by our successors, approximately 35 soldiers of the combat support forces remaining at the DHQ, as well as air reconnaissance assets, like the KZO target acquisition drone, HERON UAV, and the Northrop Grumman unmanned autonomous helicopter MQ-8 Fire Scout, the "Hindenburg" Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS), Apache helicopters and F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft. Even the first sergeant and the supply sergeant were involved in DHQ protection. The operation started with the Bravo Platoon assuming night configuration south of the village and light reconnaissance squads on the edge of the town. In addition, the JFST, EW assets and reconnaissance forces had moved into overwatching positions at Ops MUNSTER and MÜHLBERG. The next morning, dismounted Bravo Platoon forces assumed position in a compound at the north-western edge of the town. During the sweep operation carried out by Infantry Platoon Alpha, towards 11:30hrs an IED was detected in a crossroad area. The booby trap was blown up under controlled conditions on site. Alpha prepared to defend for three nights in the compound; Bravo did the same at the north-eastern edge of the town. The mixed Mechanized Infantry Platoon Charlie for three nights assumed vehicle star formation at the southern edge of the village. Subsequently, the platoons at irregular intervals conducted dismounted day and night patrols from their temporary outposts (safe houses). Beside general HUMINT, the location of critical infrastructure like mosques, schools and wells was to be documented. Another goal was to inform the distrustful inhabitants of the town on the work and tasks of ISAF and to increase pressure on INS by a massive presence in the area. Within the operation it was possible to organize and hold a Shura of village elders and a women's Shura. It became clear among other things that in recent years hardly any dismounted ISAF members had shown up in NAWABAD and the inhabitants were largely left in the dark about their intentions. The population's confidence in ISAF increased sustainably during the operation. Furthermore, there were numerous indications that – as a result of our presence – the majority of INS left the area of the town. The ANP, who had previously dared to enter the town escorted by us only, meanwhile patrolled NAWABAD without our support. It was, thus, important to follow up this success with regard to the next phase of area responsibility. In the so-called "Low Ops" phase prior to the beginning of our sixth phase of area responsibility, technical inspection of the company's small arms and vehicles was performed. Beside the usual reserve, Force Protection, and guard duties, a number of smaller operations had to be conducted in addition to the recovery phase intended between the phases of area responsibility. Since all forces of our companion company, 3rd/Inf TF KDZ were tied down by operations in the SUJANI and QARA YATIM area, this inevitably resulted in other regions in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) being neglected. In order to ensure sustainability of conduct of own operations still, it was essential to show patrol presence there, too. On 10 October 2011 for instance, the sixth company operation was conducted in NAWABAD all day ("OMED VI") in which for the first time all forces of 2nd/Inf TF KDZ (II/2011) could participate – i.e. also those forces usually left behind for the purpose of securing the DHQ.
During the sixth phase of area responsibility, the mission defined by TF was to conduct operations along Route (RTE) CHERRY. Since there still were numerous warnings on IEDs along RTE CHERRY and we had already found and blown up several booby traps along this route within the scope of sweep operations (EOR procedure B), mounted procedure towards the north continued to be no option. The company operation "SHASH MAHL" (six towns/villages) which lasted four days led from a rented safe house in NAWABAD to CHADRAN, AQ SARAY, KHAROTI/KHETAI, MANG TAPPEH and SUJANI. In the course of this operation, Infantry Platoon Bravo conducted a sweep operation along RTE CHERRY from north to south taking several days. Except for one UXO, no explosive ordnance was found. During a one-day operation in NAWABAD ("OMED VII"), Infantry Platoon Bravo, however, was able to detect two IEDs emplaced in the main road with 25 kg of explosive each and to blow them up under controlled conditions. In addition, the area in southern CDR and ALIABAD, respectively, was widened by means of partnered patrols with ANA conducted in the MUR SHEYK villages. Also during the sixth phase of area responsibility we did not come under direct INS attack. At that time, it was officially recognized for the first time that the massive presence of TF KDZ in CDR had significantly contributed to preventing the INS summer and/or late summer offensive in the district. Conduct of operations in NAWABAD was of utmost importance in this context. Nevertheless, there still were reports on enemy forces in the area. During the Low Ops phase prior to the seventh phase of area responsibility, we were tasked with conducting a reconnaissance operation near the LALA MAYDAN villages in ALIABAD. I decided to conduct a company operation also comprising a dismounted patrol into the northern area of LALA MAYDAN (3). Several weeks earlier, a firefight occurred here between US forces and INS resulting in two wounded ISAF soldiers and the release of one bomb. 30 to 50 well-trained INS still were suspected in the area having in part evaded here under the pressure of TF MES operating south of us. The mission of a heavy reconnaissance patrol (consisting of two ICVs Marder, one sniper team, one CG20 jammer and one medical vehicle) reconnoitering two hours in advance of the company was to check trafficability of the fording sites, bridges and mountain ranges on the approach routes. Starting at 08:30 hrs, the platoons followed with the combat support forces integrated for the operation (BEL TPT, TCT, ANA, ANP, EOD, CCT, JFST, MEPT, EMU, Kuckuck, Dachs armored engineer vehicle, etc.) and my command and control vehicle. Due to heavy rains which considerably hampered trafficability of the approach routes and resulted in non-availability of air reconnaissance assets and AIRMEDEVAC (helicopter) we had to abort the operation after approximately three hours at the level of the MUR SHEYK villages and return.
On 01 November 2011, the seventh phase of area responsibility started for 2nd company. We didn't guess in the beginning that this would last for 20 days. Meanwhile, temperatures had got significantly colder – there was already frost during the nights, rainfalls became more frequent, and in the morning of 08 November 2011, CDR for the first time was thickly covered in white: almost 25cm snow had fallen within 24 hours. From my perspective, the company therefore for the last time had the opportunity to deeply penetrate northern CDR and stay there for several days. During the first days, we initially conducted operations in the immediate vicinity of the DHQ (POPALZAY, NAHR-I-SUFI, KHALALZAY and PALAW KAMAR). The Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid-Al-Adha) was almost there, and there were indications for the INS being under pressure to achieve a success against ISAF, local security forces or ANSF prior to a potential "winter break". In addition, it was necessary to carry out a public survey within the scope of the accompanying operation VERUM EXQUIRO II on the security situation in northern CDR. At the end of the 20-day phase of area responsibility, the company was able to submit 422 completed questionnaires. During the four-day company operation "DAROZ RAH" (Long Way) patrols were conducted up to the northwestern border of the CDR district, approximately 20 km off the DHQ. In the course of this operation, the company demonstrated presence inter alia in QUSH TAPPEH, JUMAR BAZAR, YANGHARAG, DAQHARIT, AQ SHAKH and MAMA KHEL. Here, for the first time an element of the German Route Clearance System was involved. In addition, upon our JFST's request, the farthest shots ever fired by a self-propelled howitzer (PzH) 2000 in Afghanistan were fired for a 5-minute illumination near JUMAR BAZAR: 24.8 km at a height of 25,000 feet and almost 80 seconds TOF. A two-day reconnaissance operation following this operation brought the snipers and the mechanized infantry platoon of the company deep into the QARA BATUR and QURI TAPH mountains west of KDZ. During this operation at the latest, the company's physical/mental limits with regard to the prevailing adverseness of the weather became obvious.
Our eighth phase of area responsibility was entirely characterized by the one-week TF operation "DESERT DRAGON", commanded by COM TF KDZ in cooperation with the AFG commander of the 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 209th ANA Corps. As demonstrated by IED strikes against DEU TF MES forces on 24 and 29 November 2011, leaving three wounded, and by numerous IED discoveries in our own AOR, there could be no talk of a winter break by INS, yet. Our intention therefore was to demonstrate presence in northern CDR with three ANA companies and at least temporarily both infantry companies of TF KDZ in order to expel INS from their strongholds and lastingly stabilize the area. 2nd company in the center of main effort, here, was tasked with reinforcing ANA with three platoons in different Operations Boxes. Reinforced Infantry Platoon Alpha was employed within the company's point of main effort and conducted explosive ordnance reconnaissance along RTE CHERRY. Mixed Infantry Platoon Bravo moved to the far northwest of CDR and operated from COPs in JUMAR BAZAR and AYNUL MAYER. Reinforcements to these forces included the AFG Route Clearance Company mentored by US forces and the TCT. Mixed Mechanized Infantry Platoon Charlie moved into a safe house in NAWABAD from which it operated mainly in the town itself. They were supported inter alia by a NLD TPT, ANP and an additional engineer squad. Furthermore, the company command post was established at OP MUNSTER from which close-in patrols were conducted into the QURI mountains and KALTA TUMSHUQ. COM TF KDZ together with the AFG and BEL commanders occupied the command post at DHQ. From 30 November until 07 December 2011, northern CDR was saturated by a total of more than 950 ANSF and ISAF forces. Numerous houses were searched during the operation and one medium-level Taliban leader was arrested. Furthermore, Alpha Platoon detected and destroyed two IEDs emplaced on RTE CHERRY with 30 kg of explosive charge each as well as several UXOs. During the subsequent Low Ops phase, the company was alerted due to the kidnapping of several ANP members in BAHARAK. Under the command of the company executive officer, one and a half reinforced platoons of the company moved to the region approximately 300 km east of KDZ to reinforce AFG and DEU forces there. These forces were kept as IRF within PRT FAIZABAD, in the end however, they were not employed.
The ninth phase of area responsibility of 2nd company began in parallel and extended over a period of eight days, thus being the shortest one of our entire deployment. This phase was marked by the continuous presence of one platoon in a safe house in the eastern part of NAWABAD. Meanwhile, the financial resources and the personnel for building a COP had been released, marking a decisive step for sustainability of our conduct of operations. In addition, we inter alia conducted dismounted patrols in close vicinity to the DHQ and final firing practices of the company on the WESTPLATTE. In the morning of 24 December 2011, final "golden" patrols of the three platoons and the snipers were conducted. Around noon, TF commander together with the military chaplain and first sergeant moved to the DHQ and the safe house in NAWABAD for brief ceremonies. Beside a common Christmas dinner, the ANP was bid farewell and the first sergeant dressed up as Santa Claus handed out presents. On the evening of Christmas Day, the company was able to return to the PRT en bloc through the ford of the MISCHA MEIER bridge that was finished at the end of December. After our last phase of area responsibility, we commemorated the KIAs and WIAs of our predecessors in a company roll-call and minute of silence at the enlarged and embellished memorial site of 2nd/Inf TF KDZ. Next to the seven crosses erected by previous contingents and a compound with one turtle for each KIA of the company symbolizing immortality, inter alia the DINGO doors from the Good Friday engagements in ISA KHEL on 02 April 2010, recovered on 09 September 2011 were embedded in concrete as a memorial. The spokesperson of the enlisted personnel had obtained approval of the preceding contingents to do so. The company commemorates its seven soldiers killed in action: Hauptfeldwebel (sergeant first class) Mischa Meier († 27 Aug 2008), Stabsgefreiter (corporal) Rohman Schmidt († 20 Oct 2008), Stabsunteroffizier (sergeant) Patrick Behlke († 20 Oct 2008), Hauptgefreiter (private first class) Sergej Motz († 29 Apr 2009), Hauptfeldwebel (sergeant first class) Nils Bruns († 02 Apr 2010), Stabsgefreiter (corporal) Robert Hartert († 02 Apr 2010) und Hauptgefreiter (private first class) Martin Kadir Augustyniak († 02 Apr 2010).
(3) Further Tasks As already indicated, company routine tasks do not stop on deployments. Preparing personnel qualification reports and handling disciplinary matters just like internal and external advanced training or technical inspections are some of those things that must be coped with between the individual phases of area responsibility. In the last third of the period of deployment for instance, almost 60 evaluation reports or evaluation inputs had to be prepared and disclosed. Further "sideshows" included Force Protection, guard duty and reserve assignments, preparation and issuance of orders, coordination talks with ANA, BEL OMLT and numerous combat support forces, preparation of situation reports, after-combat reports, lessons identified, lessons learned and best practice papers, ammunition rotation, maintenance and repair, conversion and the exchange of combat vehicles, processing of a true torrent of Lotus Notes mail, combined training with reinforcements of Task Force 47, medical forces, the US Route Clearance Package , or helicopter crews, planning training year 2012, support to media representatives, participation in rounds of talk with politicians or zeroing weapons. The above examples give but a glimpse into daily routine between operations. They are to illustrate that these phases were far from being recreation periods for the company. Nevertheless, it was usually possible to find the time for sports, keeping in touch with home, or official social events.
(4) Media Interest and Media Coverage "There is a vacuum in war. The journalist is filling the information gap." (David Bellavia: House to House, 2008, p. 343 et seq.) The PRT Senior Press Officers' responsibility during our deployment was to give numerous media representatives the opportunity to gather impressions from the force. Naturally, the focus of interest often was on the TF combat companies. For instance, Dr. Feo Aladağ of Independent Artist Film Productions accompanied us on a dismounted patrol. She is winner of the 2010 German Film Award and did the research for a feature film project with the working title "Zwischen Welten" [Between Worlds] which is to be on screen in spring 2013. Resulting from the journalist André Spangenberg and the photographer Sascha Schürmann of the dapd news agency accompanying the company operation "OMED IV" were inter alia the articles "Das kleine Wunder von Nawabad" [The little miracle of Nawabad] and "Bundeswehr stoppt geplante Taliban-Offensive in Kunduz" [Bundeswehr stops planned offensive by Taliban in Kunduz]. During the more than 90 hours long follow-on operation ("OMED V") the author Dr. Eric Chuvistré ("Wir Gutkrieger") [Translator's note: "Gutkrieger" = word coining of "do-gooder" and "warrior"] and the war photographer Christoph Bangert were present. They did research inter alia for articles published in the STERN (weekly magazine) offshoots NEON (January 2012 issue) and NIDO (February 2012 issue). Furthermore, we were accompanied and/or interviewed by Christoph Grabenheinrich from the Saarländischer Rundfunk (Saarland broadcasting corporation), Stefan Prinz von und zu Löwenstein from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Sabine Siebold from the Reuters news agency, Maurizio Gambarini from the dpa news agency, Neil Shea, who brought us onto the cover of the tradition-rich US daily newspaper Stars and Stripes on 09 January 2012, the Dutch novel writer and columnist Arnon Grünberg from "de Volkskrant" newspaper, Dr. Joachim Käppner from the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Guido Schmidtke from the N24 television channel, Simone Meyer from "Die Welt" newspaper, Uli Gack from the ZDF (German Second Television Channel), Markus Schubert from NDR Info (NDR = North German Broadcasting Corporation), Commander (DEU Navy) Stefan Schanze from Bewegtbild Media Bw (Bundeswehr TV), Ronald Rogge and Jan Rippl from Y-Magazine (Bundeswehr magazine), as well as journalists from Radio Andernach (Bundeswehr radio station), Bundeswehr.de, and several combat camera teams. In addition, our companion company for an extended period of time was accompanied by Jonathan Schnitt (5/14 Film GmbH) who produces a documentary report »Foxtrott 4 - Sechs Monate mit deutschen Soldaten in Afghanistan« (Foxtrott 4 - Six months with German soldiers in Afghanistan), whose publication rights have already been assumed by the Association of Public Broadcasting Companies in Germany. The book of the same name should meanwhile have been published by the Bertelsmann publishing company [First run on NDR TV on 12 Oct 2012; The book was released on 27 Aug 2012 by the Bertelsmann-Verlag (224 pages, ISBN 978-3570101308, €14.95)] The continuous presence of journalists was perceived as disturbing by very few soldiers only. On the one hand, we had already exercised together with the press so that it became routine quickly to be accompanied by them. On the other, the press served as an excellent means of communication from the force to Germany. We didn't have any negative experiences with any media representative assigned to us. It was certainly to a significant degree due to the good incorporation and honest acceptance of the press representatives by the company that no unfair articles or headlines with negative thrust came into the media.
(5) End of deployment On 25 December 2011, after terminating our ninth period of area responsibility in CDR and transferring the DHQ to our companion company, all forces of 2nd/Inf TF KDZ (II/2011) returned to the PRT. Except for a few individual assignments for force protection tasks and the provision of reserve forces, operations by my company's soldiers outside the camp were de facto finished. While alternately providing IRF, it was now important to prepare handover of equipment to the follow-on contingent – TF KDZ IV – and to pack and dispatch the individual equipment. Furthermore, the "Medal Parade", the "End of Tour" party, and the New Year's Eve party had to be organized and staged. Our follow-on company was 2nd/Mechanized Infantry Battalion 411 from Viereck. The first soldiers of the contingent arrived at KDZ airfield early January 2012. Late September 2011, the company operations officer, two platoon leaders, and the leader of the sniper team of 2nd/Inf TF KDZ (I/2012) had already carried out a fact finding mission in the country of deployment. They were involved in the company operation "OMED V" and could thus be briefed on the current situation immediately on site and develop a sense of the situation in NAWABAD within the scope of a dismounted patrol. Due to the weather conditions, transfer of responsibility to the company was accomplished under time pressure but in a spirit of comradeship. Supported by protection company PRT KDZ at DHQ CDR, a time window was created which gave at least five days to our successors to prepare for their first phase of area responsibility. On 15 January 2012 – after just over 200 days of deployment – I left AFG soil as the last soldier of my company.
(6) Taking Stock The tactical results of TF KDZ III deployment which was based on the predecessors' accomplishments and to which 2nd company provided its contribution can be summarized as follows: (a) Handover to ANA of the last stationary Bundeswehr COPs in CDR (height 432), (b) Significant progress as to the assumption of security responsibility by ANSF, including partnered patrols in the entire CDR and ALB area and combined offensives, (c) Establishing freedom of movement in the entire southern part and almost in the entire northern part of CDR, (d) Detection and disposal of numerous IEDs and a vast number of UXOs, (e) Seizure of NAWABAD and northern LALA MAYDAN and establishment of COPs on site, and (f) Prevention of the INS summer offensive in CDR. We acted in an offensive but well-considered manner, were out frequently and at most different times, and advanced into the depth of the area, denying the enemy the chance to take the initiative. Only once, company forces got involved in a firefight. For the rest, the enemy was forced to switch to his perfidious tactics to emplace booby traps. 2nd/Inf TF KDZ (II/2011) alone detected 17 of these IEDs which were blown up under controlled conditions. INS succeeded only once to initiate an IED in the close vicinity of own forces. As directed by Bundeswehr Operations Command, a strict standard was set as to awarding the combat operations medal: eleven soldiers of the company were awarded this medal because of their direct participation in combat.
(7) Look Back and Lessons Learned Based on our predecessors' accomplishments, I succeeded in achieving my high-priority, personal goal to bring home all soldiers entrusted to me unharmed – despite our offensive procedure. Incessantly appealing to the professionalism of everybody was especially important, here: No exception must be made with regard to wearing the individual protection equipment also under the conditions of blazing heat, poor visibility, or icy cold. Helmet, protective vest, fragmentation protective goggles, gloves, individual weapon and ear protection were always obligatory outside secure areas. Throughout deployment, these rules had to be called to mind again and again and also enforced against resistance and in the face of laziness. Added to that were rules of tactical behavior, observation of which could guarantee a minimum of self-protection. It was for instance important: Not to order small forces "to go it alone" but to enter the stage massively, to march off roads whenever possible, always plan for reserves and air reconnaissance during movements [...] Furthermore, despite all the trust in our AFG security forces, many situations required "to secure inwards" and to permanently carry a handgun in outposts due to the problem of "internal perpetrators". Also the regular dismounted patrolling of many villages and consideration for and the open and respectful relation with the local population contributed to the success of operations. The required little bit of luck rounded off the positive course of deployment.
(8) Prospects 2nd/Armored Infantry Demonstration Battalion 92 has concluded post-deployment activities and has meanwhile returned to "normal" routine at Munster garrison. After returning from deployment, members of 2nd/Inf TF KDZ (II/2011) first had three weeks leave, followed by the post-deployment seminar and a phase during which about one third of the company soldiers attended preventive treatment programs. After completion of the post-deployment seminar, the infantry forces of the Franco-German Brigade assigned to us (one platoon of light infantry battalion 291, Illkirch, FRA) returned to its battalion. All forces of Mechanized Infantry Platoon Alpha, assigned to an Infantry Company of TF MES, reached home late February 2012. I defined the following post-deployment focal points: (1) To quickly assume a functioning company structure again, (2) To revert to normal duties at home, and (3) To take into account the long absence of the company soldiers from home in the planning of the training year. TF KDZ IV was the last of its kind. Since mid-2012, the forces in KDZ have been turned into a "Partnering Advisory Task Force" having available one combat company – a quick reaction unit – only. This way, the focus will further shift to ANSF command responsibility. Employment within the scope of TF KDZ was a particular challenge for the company, since neither the company nor the battalion had previously been in Afghanistan as a whole and the number of operationally experienced soldiers was limited. Operational experience as Infantry Company has minted the leaders and will have lasting effects on the training at the home garrison. The company stood the test within the Task Force and accomplished its task. In view of the global security situation, another deployment abroad is only a matter of time. Let it come. The Second is ready!
Author: Marcel Bohnert
published (DEU) in: Der Panzergrenadier, 31, 2011, pages 67 to 75
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