Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs

Wisconsin National Guard News



Wisconsin Sappers clearing routes in Afghanistan

Date: June 4, 2009

The commander of the 951st Sapper Company, Wisconsin Army National Guard, reports that all is well after four months in Afghanistan.

Capt. Brian Barth said his unit of approximately 100 soldiers has been busy with several missions that help maintain freedom to maneuver for U.S. and coalition forces. These missions include searching for improvised explosive devices, reconnoitering key terrain features as well as bypass roads for major supply routes and alternative supply routes, but also gathering biometric data from local residents — name, date and location of birth, home of record, iris scans and fingerprints.

These missions have Barth’s soldiers operating outside of the forward operating bases more often than inside, sometimes for weeks at a time.

“From my viewpoint, we’re forcing the enemy to change how he does things,” Barth said, such as placing specific IEDs on certain routes.

The commander said his unit has been outfitted with “some of the best technology the military has to offer” to accomplish its mission. Many of his soldiers are college students or in management and have quickly adapted to the changing technology. “We have a ‘can-do’ attitude,” Barth noted.

He described unit morale as excellent, and said the two FOBs his unit is stationed at — Kandahar Air Field in Kandahar province and FOB Lagman in Zabul province — provide pretty good amenities such as themed dining facilities, large post exchanges and decent Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities.

“My guys have adapted well,” Barth observed. “We’ve come together as a team.” The 951st, based out of Rhinelander and Tomahawk, mobilized Nov. 30, 2008 and trained at Camp Shelby, Miss. They arrived in Afghanistan on Feb. 2. They are among approximately 3,600 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen on active duty.

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A soldier from the 951st Sapper Company, Wisconsin Army National Guard, interacts with Afghan nationals as part of the unit’s mission to clear convoy routes in their sectors of Kandahar and Zabul provinces. — Wisconsin Army National Guard photo.

Click For High Resolution Photo

The 951st Sapper Company of the Wisconsin Army National Guard is tasked with clearing maneuver routes in Afghanistan's Kandahar and Zabul provinces. Conducting route patrols is part of how the unit accomplishes this mission. — Wisconsin Army National Guard photo.

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