GHOR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A team of coalition special operations forces rescued nine Afghan Uniformed Policemen and two Afghan women who were stranded as a result of severe snowstorms near the remote village of Cabalaq, Daudina district, Feb. 22.
On Tuesday night, Feb. 21, the small group of Afghan police, who had been stranded for several days, used a cell phone to contact International Security Assistance Forces to request assistance. Despite receiving some food and shelter from local villagers, their situation began to rapidly deteriorate and one policeman reportedly died from exposure.
This morning at approximately 7 a.m., ISAF helicopters with a coalition SOF team landed in the snow-covered village, rescued the trapped police unit and assisted them in the recovery of their fallen comrade. Though most of the village was covered in up to four feet of snow, local villagers assisted the rescue effort by carving out pathways between the compounds and near the landing zone to speed the process.
The rescue mission could not have come at better time according to one SOF operator; villages in this mountainous central province of Afghanistan often struggle through the harsh winter months.
The strain of housing and feeding a dozen additional people could have jeopardized the small village’s ability to make it through the winter, he added.
“When we landed a crowd of [villagers and AUP] was waiting for us,” said the coalition SOF team leader. “They were jumping up and down, waving their arms. They were really happy to see us.”
The coalition SOF team leader met with village elders to compliment the community for rendering assistance to the AUP. Coalition SOF provided food to replenish the village’s supplies after locals had diminished their scarce resources to care for and feed the stranded AUP.
Approximately 25 families live in the Cabalaq village which survives mainly on wheat crop throughout the year, according to the village elder Naman Sha Ali. The village does not get many visitors, according to Ali, but is always willing to assist a weary traveler in need, he added.
By 8:30 a.m., all recovered persons were transported to an ISAF forward operations base at Chagcharan, also in Ghor province, for further assistance and medical assessment.
“Coalition forces are deeply committed to the safety and operational capacity of our Afghan partners, said Maj. Mike Garcia, coalition SOF spokesperson. Coalition aviation and coalition SOF personnel are uniquely capable of rapidly planning and conducting complex missions in an environment in which the situation and information are unclear and developing.”
“While most missions in Afghanistan are now Afghan-led, coalition forces will always be ready to provide quick reaction and rescue forces whenever and wherever needed,” Garcia added.