Troop Says Farewell to Deh Rawud, Australians After Nine Months Together
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HADRIAN, Afghanistan- For the last seven months they’ve shared everything from living and work spaces, to patrol areas and missions. They’ve shared laughs with new found friends and consoled each other over the loss of a fallen comrade. But now a partnership forged in the everyday hazards of life in Afghanistan is coming to an end.
Since late July, Apache Troop 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment has worked with their Australian counterparts to mentor the Afghan Army and Police in an effort to achieve stability and peace in the Tangi Valley. But a change in the mission for the Regiment during the last six weeks of its deployment means Apache Troop has packed up and left Hadrian and its successful partnership with the Australians.
“I’m sad to see them (Apache Troop) go.” said Major David French, the commanding officer for Combat Team Charlie, part of the Australian Defense Force Mentoring Task Force 2. “They are great guys at every level.”
“It was a great experience” according to Apache Troop Commander Matthew Piosa. “I think we both learned a lot from each other and we’ll both be better units for having worked together.”
Despite different backgrounds, uniforms and accents, French and Piosa meshed their two companies into a single, complimentary force allowing each to have a more effective end result in their mentoring missions with the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Even the dynamic of Piosa being a Captain and French a Major, the reflection of American and Australian command philosophies didn’t hinder the mission in Deh Rawud.
“We worked on a peer to peer basis.” according to Maj. French. “There’s not a whole lot of difference in age or experience. There’s been times where something’s happened in the TOC where he’s the senior representative and he’s been able to direct my guys to do things and vise versa.”
“Up front the differences seem insignificant.” Said Capt. Piosa. “There was a sense from everyone on the base that we were one team; working together to protect the population and develop the Afghan National Security Forces.”
“We’ve gone through some tough times and we’ve both lost soldiers,” Maj. French added. “But we’ve also done some great things and achieved a lot in a short time.”
On their last day at FOB Hadrian, Americans and Australians gathered together one last time to exchange parting gifts, company t-shirts from the respective units and a framed plaque with the logos of Apache Troop and Charlie Company, surrounded by pictures taken of soldiers and diggers in action, as well as those of their fallen comrades.
“It was great to see how another nation does business.” Piosa said. “The partnership between the U.S. and Australian forces in Deh Rawud was phenomenal.”
And with the arrival of Charlie Company 4/70th Armor as the replacement for Apache Troop, the “getting to know you” phase starts anew for Americans and Australians alike.
“It’s good to get fresh blood in,” Maj. French said. “We’re at the six month point of our deployment and 4-70th is just getting here, so we get a new perspective on things and they bring a different view as well.”
“It’s a new challenge, the only constant is change”