By Army Sgt. Jessica R. Dahlberg
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 20, 2008 - Coalition troops often hand out colorful flyers to the people of Afghanistan, providing tips on staying hydrated, warnings to avoid touching landmines, and instructions on what to do if they find munitions that could be used against coalition forces. About 24,000 of these flyers, which have a combination of pictures and images, tell the Afghan people about the Small Rewards Program, through which they can turn in munitions for money.
"The flyers we distribute help get the word out and advertise the Small Rewards Program a lot better than soldiers going out and telling the people about it," said Army Capt. John Bilski, information officer for the Pennsylvania National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 103rd Armor Regiment.
As a result of the program, two children recently turned in a roadside bomb, and on Aug. 3, soldiers from 527th Military Police Company escorted a truck carrying a weapons cache to Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam.
The cache was turned in by a member of the Law Enforcement Professionals surveillance team, which works together with 527th MPs to train the Afghanistan National Police on informant development. The ANP-trained informant told the member of the surveillance team about the cache, which contained dozens of 107 mm rockets and rocket-propelled grenades. The RPGs were brand new and were taken out of the original packaging.
"These munitions getting taken off the street is a good thing," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jody Brissette, 1st Platoon leader, 527th MP Company. "It means that they can't be used against us later on."
Through the Small Rewards Program, servicemembers at Forward Operating Base Methar Lam have received RPGs, hand grenades and even a couple of suicide vests, said David Lemoine, a member of the Law Enforcement Professionals.
"The cooperation from everyone on the FOB has led to us recovering more artillery than all of Afghanistan combined," Lemoine said.
(Army Sgt. Jessica R. Dahlberg serves with 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)