The US platoon will run workshops on basics from marksmanship to first aid – lessons that have been taught before, Tuley acknowledges, but bear repeating.
“If you think about it, this [Afghan commander at Nangalam] never had a partnership, Tuley adds. “It was. ‘Here’s your battlespace.’ ”
The first order of business – and lesson for Afghan commanders – is to bolster base defenses. When the US was here, Nangalam had early-attack warning systems, including towers with cameras that sent images to screens in a base defense center, which allowed troops to monitor the perimeter.
When Tuley returned, no vestige of those defenses remained. “The security definitely wasn’t at the level that I would ever feel too comfortable having my soldiers out there,” he says.
In response, he has assigned a US platoon of about 30 soldiers to patrol the surrounding area, and he stationed a single US soldier with night-vision goggles at each Afghan guard post along the perimeter of the base.
Beyond base defenses, Tuley must help the Afghans carry out their own missions more effectively.
The PEP's first big test: A humanitarian mission into one of the more isolated and government-averse areas of the country.
The mission was an Afghan command idea, and US officials are pleased to see Afghan soldiers taking a page from the US playbook: following violent operations with aid for villages, in the hopes of mitigating hard feelings and demonstrating the reach of the Afghan government.
The plan is to convoy from Kunar up north into the neighboring province of Nuristan, an area where US troops have not been since 2009.