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Preventing IEDs: Security & Patrols in Afghanistan


KANDAHAR, Afghan. – After more than a month in country, the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment “Red Warriors,” 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, have a steady routine for ground defense area patrols, here.

The Red Warriors are part of Train, Advise and Assist Command- South. 

The mission for TAAC-South, which is composed of Soldiers of the 40th Infantry Division, California National Guard and 2nd IBCT, 4th Inf. Div., is to train and advise Afghan security forces and assist in counterterrorism operations. 

“Our mission is to deter (improvised explosive devices), indirect fire and engage with key leaders of villages we encounter,” said Sgt. 1st Class Vicente Martinez, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, Company D, 1st Bn., 12th Inf. Reg. “In a way we provide a bubble of safety for the rest of the Soldiers on (Kandahar Airfield).” 

Martinez, a Las Vegas, Nevada native, has served as an infantryman for 15 years.

“Teamwork is extremely important in these types of missions,” Martinez said. “Things can escalate very quickly, so it’s important to know each Soldier and their mannerisms so you can tell when they are getting frustrated or emotional.” 

However, Martinez said the success of the mission comes before even arriving in country.

“We conducted team, squad, platoon and up to battalion level exercises (while on Fort Carson) to prepare our Soldiers for the different missions we would encounter,” explained Martinez. “These guys trained hard in the states and now they are able to put all that hard work into motion.”

For many of the Soldiers in first platoon this is nothing new. 

“I was part of (Company C), 1st Bn., 12th Inf. Reg. in Bagram during my first deployment,” said Spc. Joshua Ledvina, a team leader with 1st Platoon, Co. D, 1st Bn., 12th Inf. Reg. “We did a very similar mission then and I try to be helpful to our inexperienced Soldiers as much as I can.” 

The Toledo, Iowa native said that as a team leader it is important for him and his Soldiers to have everything prepared for missions.

“Immediately following the mission brief I go out with my guys to prepare the vehicles and make sure we have all the supplies we need,” said Ledvina. “Ammo, water and ensuring your weapon is clean and ready is crucial because these guys are out here putting their lives on the line.” 

Seeing younger Soldiers like Ledvina take initiative of tasks, such as restocking, is what makes leaders most proud, according to Martinez.

“The goal is to make our younger (Soldiers) feel empowered that they can make the right decisions during any situation,” said Martinez. “I won’t be able to be with these guys forever, so I need them to prepare to take over my spot when the time comes.” 

With Martinez on deployment number seven, he said he enjoys being able to perform his duties as an infantrymen.

“If we can keep one IED or rocket from firing and potentially hurting a Soldier it’s all worth it,” said Martinez.

Story by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield.