HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- United States Army soldiers with the 65th Engineer Battalion led an operation to install culvert denial systems along Highway 1 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 24.
The mission was to install 20 culvert denial systems at five different locations within Regional Command (Southwest)’s area of operation. The systems are designed to prevent the emplacement of improvised explosive devices in small tunnels along the main highway in Helmand and ensure the safety of the Afghan people traveling along the road.
The system is comprised of two metal-bar grates that are placed at either ends of the culvert and held together by tension force cables, with an anti-tampering device secured to the grates. The device can detect any type of disturbance from vibrations to heat and will initiate a camera to record any tampering with the system.
While the Army took the lead with installing culvert denial systems, soldiers with the Georgian Army and a U.S. Marine Georgian Liaison Team provided security and vehicle stopping points as force protection. The Afghan National Army was responsible for manning and running the vehicle stopping points and engaging Afghan travelers to inform them of the operation.
“This really shows the support we have for the Afghans and how much we want to help them provide safety for not only Highway 1, but Afghanistan,” said Army 1st Lt. Cortney Heaps, patrol commander, 65th Engineer Battalion and native of Litchfield Park, Ariz. “Incorporating the Georgians, Marines and the Army, shows the Afghans we can all work together and that they can work with us. We can support one another to get the mission accomplished.”
As U.S. Forces continue to transfer full security to the Afghans in securing their country, they are also providing them with necessary tools and equipment to keep their country and people safe.
“It’s a great opportunity to give something to the Afghans that would enhance their force protection,” said Army 1st Lt. Anne Nagy, engineer officer, 65th Engineer Battalion and native of McKinney, Texas. “It is not the end-all, be-all to culvert IEDs, but it is an extra layer of protection that could help save one or many lives. With the anti-tampering device, if something does show that there is some sort of interest or abnormality, it lets us know something is happening and to cue into that. It’s an added benefit to International Security Assistance Force for a little bit more situational awareness and Afghan National Security Forces and local nationals to protect them along Highway 1.”
According to Heaps, the ANSF are supportive of programs that keep Afghanistan safe. The culvert denial systems are easy for the Afghans to build, install and maintain, and are a step in the right direction for the country.
“It was a good mission overall,” said Heaps. “It was interesting working with different countries, but once we got into the rhythm of things we worked really well together. Having the ANA out with us shows the Afghan locals they can have faith in their security force, and they are taking the lead in protecting and defending their country. Everything we can do for the ANSF goes a long way to help them and will have a long lasting effect on Afghanistan.”