VIDEO: US troops sent to advise Afghan forces drawn into firefight

By JAD SLEIMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 26, 2014

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Earlier this month, Dragon Troop returned to Combat Outpost Kherwar, which was turned over to the Afghan National Army in 2011, to help coordinate a major clearance operation against Taliban forces in the area.

They were the first American soldiers to set foot in this remote corner of Logar province in more than three years. Deployed to support an Afghan battalion, they did not intend to engage in combat. The Taliban, however, had other plans for them.

When early success against the militants left the Afghans with more territory than they could control, Gen. Abdul Raziq asked the Americans to cover for the last days of the mission.

The Americans agreed to help, and their advise-and-assist mission quickly turned to open combat.

“Our role wasn’t really to fight,” said Lt. Graham Hennig, a platoon leader with Dragon Troop. “It just so happened that the fight crept it’s way up to us.”

The U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan is slated to end in December, and the Afghan National Army is already in the lead of most operations. But as the experiences of the soldiers of Dragon Troop and others demonstrate, ending America’s longest war won’t be as easy as waiting out the clock.


A video screen grab shows Dragon Troop soldiers walking through dust churned up by a nearby helicopter during their deployment to Logar province, Afghanistan, in September 2014.