NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — To warm up for their first patrol outside the wire at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on Aug. 22, Bravo Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, soldiers practiced bounding.
Bounding is a way of moving across open terrain, where enemy contact is anticipated. Multiple teams alternate movement with each other: one keeps eyes on the enemy and provides covering fire, as necessary, while the other team moves forward. This continues until the teams reach their objective.
Once the team leaders were satisfied with the bounding rehearsals, the 4th Squadron soldiers set out on a presence patrol around the base.
The purpose of the early morning patrol, which started just after dawn, was to check the security of Fenty’s perimeter, as well as engage the local population.
“We needed to get out there and establish ourselves outside the wire from a perspective of security, looking back in on ourselves,” said 1st Lt. Arrio Granum, a platoon leader. “A defensive position is never complete, because you’re always trying to make it better.”
The patrol wound part way around Fenty, the soldiers trekking through dense undergrowth, across irrigated farmland and along dirt pathways on the outskirts of Jalalabad. As they went, the lead team used handheld minesweepers to search for improvised explosive devices buried in the footpaths, while the other teams provided security.
“My team did great running the counter-IED equipment,” said Sgt. Nikko Coronado, a team leader. “It worked well for us.”
The patrol was not without its difficulties, though.
“The challenges (Bravo Troop) faced involved the terrain and engaging the local population,” said Staff Sgt. David Nimrod, a section sergeant. The route the unit took was unfamiliar and often overgrown, and navigating it without interfering with the locals conducting their day-to-day activities required patience and skill.
The local Afghans typically carried on with whatever they were doing. Whether it was working in their fields or traveling down the same footpaths as the soldiers, the villagers have long been accustomed to a U.S. presence in the area.
Even so, whenever children caught sight of the Americans they ran toward them, laughing and calling for the soldiers to give them something. A few obliged and gave away pens and candy.
The patrol was largely uneventful: no roadside bombs were discovered, the enemy did not engage and no bounding was necessary.
Uneventful though it was, Bravo Troop’s leadership agreed the presence patrol accomplished its mission.
“If we get too static and too complacent, then the enemy is going to be able to react to that,” Granum said. “We want to throw the enemy off, make sure we always have the upper hand.”