Soldiers in Afghanistan have varying success following up on intelligence tips
JELEWAR, Afghanistan — Soldiers in this part of the Arghandab Valley estimate they’re receiving 10 times as many intelligence tips as they used to.
Not all of them yield big results, however.
U.S. troops on Sunday went searching for what was billed as a Taliban weapons cache but found just a few items — a rusted ammo can, the tail fin for a spent 82 mm mortar illumination shell and an old pistol grip for an AK-47 rifle.
“We call it ‘chasing the unicorn,’ ” said Sgt. 1st Class Ivan Maldonado.
Still, troops say, it’s best to see what the tips might yield. Three soldiers from Company C have been killed by bombs and another seven have been wounded. Two of them have lost limbs.
Pursuing leads has another benefit: U.S. and Afghan troops are seen together.
Afghan soldiers live alongside U.S. troops at a small base outside Jelewar, in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, and conduct virtually every patrol and operation jointly.
It’s hard for the troops to tell friend from foe sometimes. A young man with bloody hands wrapped in a makeshift bandages came seeking medical help.
He said while tending a field, he saw something that looked like a pen attached to a piece of string. When he picked it up, it exploded.
Soldiers, suspecting the man was hurt trying to plant a bomb, had no choice but to treat him and let him go. A sweep of the field that evening turned up nothing.