BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Afghan truck drivers loaded their vehicles with much-needed supplies from the Bagram Air Field Humanitarian Assistance Yard to support a humanitarian aid mission in Regional Command North recently.
The 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, spearheaded the relief effort to provide rice, beans, flour, cooking oil, coal and other items for the villagers in the town of Sar-E Pol, located in the Balkh province, said Navy Chief Petty Officer Tychicious Turner, non-commissioned officer in charge for the Bagram Humanitarian Assistance Yard.
The relief effort is part of the Commanders Emergency Relief Program, a program designed to have a positive, immediate effect on the local population. Such relief efforts are an integral part in International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. David Petraeus' Counter-Insurgency strategy to "win the hearts and minds" of the Afghan population - a strategy not lost on the Mavericks battalion.
"We've come to realize that the human terrain is just as important as the physical terrain," said 2nd Lt. Donovan Sullivan, supply and services officer, 142nd CSSB, 101st Sus. Bde. "In providing that humanitarian relief effort where we can, we're proving to the people that your welfare is important to us."
Turner said the battalion worked with the 170th Sustainment Brigade to provide support for the villagers whose food and water supply had suffered during a drought that caused a shortage of crops.
The battalion sent more than 650,000 pounds of supplies to the villagers, Turner said. The supplies - valued at $1.1 million U.S. dollars - were enough to support the population of a small Midwestern or Southern town in the states, he said.
Sullivan said ensuring the villagers had ample food and water was a top priority in the relief mission.
"There's not a lot of fresh water supply here and what food is here can spoil or damage very quickly, so that's what needs to be replaced," he said. "Once the immediate needs are addressed, we can start working on rebuilding or improving the infrastructure if we can."
Sullivan said while geographically the Humanitarian Assistance Yard is a small mission, its impact on the region is not.
"The command places it as a high priority," he said. "The transition to the ‘hearts and minds' mindset makes the people of Afghanistan very important in a way that they have not been before."
Editor's Note: Cpl. Sarah Keegan, a Unit Public Affairs Representative for the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, contributed to the article.