Sunday April 20, 2014
Rough Road to Pesh Valley in Afghanistan (VIDEO)Tim King, in Afghanistan, for Salem-News.com
DISPATCHES FROM AFGHANISTAN
(KABUL, Afghanistan) - "The intel we have so far as far as where we are going, is along the road into the Pesh, it sounds like there might be some activity coming from our left, so gunners be aware of that."
Those were the words of Sgt Major Kemp Freund, at the briefing before our convoy left for the infamous Pesh Valley.
Convoy to a base called California
The road gets narrow and rough, and the trip lasts hours. Humvees are huge vehicles but they are cramped inside, and it wasn't what most people would consider a smooth ride.
Soldiers call to their upper turret gunner to make sure he’s braced for the big bumps. "Hang on,” the soldier riding shotgun yells. The gunner calls back, “It's all good!"
The gunner in the turret of your Humvee seems especially alert and on the ready, as you maneuver through this place that has a sense of awe, an odd mix of natural beauty and tension.
Our convoy arrived at the Forward combat base called California.
"Yeah the Taliban's coming in and setting up strikes in that ridge area up there, they set up ambush areas along that top ridge up there,” he said as he pointed at the hillside.
And like Vietnam, the enemy strikes without warning, typically disappearing afterward by blending into the countryside. It makes the job of defending these local villagers difficult.
"Usually we don't even see 'em. We don't even see em, we can't see on the other side of that ridge and we can't even see em,” Hays added.
While the Americans stay busy, it is their Afghan National Army counterparts that pick up the slack and absorb much of the damage.
“Working with the ANA, they're good soldiers,” Hays told me. I asked, “You guys are getting a long way with them aren't you?” And Hays confirmed, “Yes we are."
That working relationship is keeping this combat hot zone called the Pesh Valley, a safer place, allowing the children here a better chance of having a complete life, one not cut short by a whizzing bullet, mortar or rocket.
Convoy moving out
Getting out of the Pesh Valley before the fall of darkness is a priority for coalition soldiers, but our convoy had no such luck, as military vehicles became gridlocked on the narrow dirt road, perched on a steep cliff overlooking the Pesh River.
The soldiers say that for a while, they felt like sitting ducks.
For about thirty minutes, the attackers that shoot from across the River had a sizeable target as the soldiers worked to free the bottleneck and get things moving again, which they did, and both convoys resumed moving toward their destinations.
When the dust settled, nobody was hurt, and soldiers said it was just another day in a dangerous place occupied by Americans, called the Pesh Valley.
Watch the Streaming Video News Report below, direct from Kabul, Afghanistan by Tim King: Video
In Afghanistan, Tim King, reporting for Salem-News.com
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Tim King is embedded in Kabul, Afghanistan with the 41st Combat Brigade of the Oregon National Guard. See his stories several times a week here, on Salem-News.com, and on Portland’s KPTV Fox12.
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