War on Terrorism

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Infantrymen Maintain Austere Base in Afghanistan

By Army Staff Sgt. Marcos Alices
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 6, 2009 - U.S. forces in Afghanistan are spread throughout the desert, countryside and mountainous terrain at small forward operating bases. At Forward Operating Base Baylough, infantrymen from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, are tasked with patrolling the Hindu Kush Mountains in the Deh Chopan district of Afghanistan's Zabul province. Along with that mission, they also maintain and operate Baylough.

"We are pretty self-sustaining, so we have to do everything ourselves," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Carney, a platoon sergeant from Norwood, Mass.

The regiment has maintained Baylough since 2006. The soldiers rotate daily duties and patrol missions among the squads using a three-day cycle. Daily duties can include anything from cleaning common areas and burning trash to filling generators with fuel. In Baylough, a soldier is more than an infantryman; he is a carpenter, mechanic and handyman.

"[Life is] simple," said Army Staff Sgt. Jason Gaulke, an indirect fire infantryman from Buffalo Lake, Minn. "You wake up and do your missions or chores."

The base grew from meager beginnings with only a mud hut. Though Baylough is no bigger than a small elementary school, it now has barracks, a gym, a dining facility and a morale, welfare and recreation facility. Many of these facilities, such as the barracks, are new additions to the base.

"The living conditions here are actually pretty nice, considering the locations," said Army Pfc. Bryan E. Delashmit, an infantryman from Lebanon, Ind. "They definitely have improved [the base]."

While duties vary, security is top priority at Baylough. "You are generally at the front lines [when on guard duty]," Delashmit said. "Upon an attack, you are the first responder for the [base]."

(Army Staff Sgt. Marcos Alices serves in the Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan public affairs office.)

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