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There's No Place Like Home
by Army Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler - November 1, 2011

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COMBAT OUTPOST LION, Afghanistan (10/27/2011) - The newly-established Combat Outpost Lion, in Do'ab Village, needed work. With only some tents surrounded by dirt-filled Hesco barriers, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, set out to make the COP more secure and more comfortable.

Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, return to Combat Outpost Lion after an hours-long patrol around the village of Do'ab, Oct. 18. Company A has had a constant presence in the area, extending a road throughout the village and building the COP in an effort to rid the village of Taliban activity. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler, Oct. 18, 2011
Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, return to Combat Outpost Lion after an hours-long patrol around the village of Do'ab, Oct. 18. Company A has had a constant presence in the area, extending a road throughout the village and building the COP in an effort to rid the village of Taliban activity. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler, Oct. 18, 2011

“My guys teamed up with engineers. We provided the design, the engineers built it and my guys worked on the infrastructure inside of it,” explained 1st Sgt. Jeff Peppin, Company A's first sergeant and a Coeur d‘Alene, Idaho, native.

On the company's building to-do list: a Role 1 medical clinic, guard towers for oversight of the village, living accommodations, toilets, showers and shade. They wasted no time.

Peppin said the soldiers were eager to get to work. It was not only a chance for them to do their part in building their new digs, but also a chance for them to showcase their carpentry skills.

The Role 1 medical clinic was set up immediately and is able to administer aid to soldiers and local Afghans. COP Lion's medics have treated a few local nationals since construction of Lion began.

“With the locals, you see amputations and gun shots wounds. When they come to us, they actually respond well to our treatment and are very appreciative of us,” said Pfc. Sky Nosaka, of Trinidad, Colo. Nosaka is a medic with 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment.

Within in the first month of starting the construction, engineers from the 368th Engineer Battalion, Naval Construction Regiment, and infantrymen from 1st Bn., 5th Inf. Reg., had assembled tents for housing, a bathroom and shower facility with hot water.

With the necessities built and in working order, it was up to the platoons in 1st Bn., 5th Inf. Reg., to make improvements. It would take time though. There was still another mission to accomplish: securing Do'ab.

“Our platoon is on a rotating schedule with the other platoons in the company. We will help out with construction at Lion, pull guard duty at the towers and do dismounted patrols within the village,” explained Pfc. Alberio Porto, a driver with 1st Bn., 5th Inf. Reg., and a Campina Grande, Brazil, native.

Dismounted patrols are a chance for soldiers to interact with the locals and assess the insurgency threat.

“We are starting to know the locals, and they are beginning to trust us. Trust has been a hard thing to build since the Taliban moved into this area, but [the locals] are welcoming of what we are doing here,” Peppin said.

When the Taliban moved into the area, the villagers began leaving the area for fear of being injured or killed. Since the expansion of the road through Do'ab and the added security of the Afghan National Police and 1st Bn., 5th Inf. Reg., Peppin said there has been an increase in villagers returning to their homes and crops.

“The more we interact with the villagers, the more they will begin to trust us. When they trust us, they tell us information about enemy activity in the area,” said Peppin.

When not patrolling the village, or guarding COP Lion, the platoons are responsible for taking care of mission-essential equipment like vehicles, weapons and communications. Without this equipment, they wouldn't be able to complete the mission.

“We do most of the maintenance on the Strykers ourselves,” said Porto. “We have to make sure that everything is in working order, because if something breaks on us while we are on mission or dismounted patrol, it could be a matter of life or death.”

After nearly two months of construction, the men are ready to make the permanent move to COP Lion from their current outpost, COP Mushan, on the other side of Do'ab Village. For Nosaka, being at COP Lion is a way to continue honing his medic skills and, most importantly he says, stay connected to the war.

For Porto, moving to Lion is a matter of pride.

“You spend so much time building and patrolling and building some more, you want to get there and enjoy it.”

More associated images in frame below

By Army Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler
1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2011

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Associated articles by Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler > Deep In The Heart Of Taliban Country | Breaking Ground: Road to Do'ab

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