The Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers dodged roadside bombs. They took sniper fire from housing compounds and machine gun fire from mosques. Taliban fighters attacked them from crowds filled with women and children.
One insurgent dressed in a burqa and passed himself off as a female bystander before firing at troops.
Enemy fighters repeatedly tried to exploit NATO troops’ restrictive rules of engagement throughout the 3 1/2 weeks the Stryker soldiers fought as part of the largest operation of the Afghanistan war, Lt. Col. Burton Shields of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division told The News Tribune this week.
“They fired from compounds, from mosques to try to get us to create civilian casualties,” said Shields, the commander of 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. “They were trying to create that rift between us and the local population.”
But Shields, a 43-year-old North Carolina native, said in a phone interview that his soldiers “showed a tremendous amount of restraint and discipline” in such situations.
The Stryker unit evacuated five of its own for medical reasons: two from gunshot wounds and three from injuries sustained during roadside bomb strikes. All are expected to recover, Shields said.
Read more »