1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment: Unit forged ties among Afghan tribes
BAMBERG, Germany — Lt. Col. Paul Fellinger, commander of 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, said his unit’s battle space in Afghanistan reminded him of something he had envisioned while reading the Old Testament.
“They walked everywhere ... they have been living like that for hundreds of thousands of years,” said Fellinger, who has just completed his third tour to the country.
When the unit arrived in southern Logar province, the three tribes in the Kherwar district had no intention of working together, Fellinger said. There also was no viable form of Afghan government in the area.
Bringing the tribes together was one of the missions of the 1-91, which had a 772-square-mile area of operations.
By the time the unit concluded its deployment, the groups were working together to improve the community under a recognized Afghan government, Fellinger said.
“While it wasn’t the greatest example of governance in Afghanistan, it certainly came the furthest,” the Cincinnati native said.
The squadron also was working to disrupt the weapons-trafficking network and battling suicide bombers on the main route through the province into Kabul. The mission brought the soldiers under fire almost every day.
“Seldom did a day go by, especially during the summer, that we weren’t engaged at least two or three times,” Fellinger said.
By the end of the deployment, 78 troopers had been wounded. Pfc. Russell Madden, who was killed during a rocket attack on his convoy on June 23, was the unit’s only fatality.
The squadron also trained a new battalion of Afghan army soldiers in the province, Fellinger said, and by the end of the deployment the Afghans were working independently.
“Every mission we did was side-by-side with the Afghan army,” he said. “That was probably the most challenging part of what we did…they came into us basically having just completed basic training,” he said.