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FOB Pasab: 5/20 Strykers meet multiple challenges

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Forward Operating Base, or FOB, Pasab is about 60 miles southwest of Kandahar.  For the time being, it is home for the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.

Rectangular in shape, the FOB is comprised of a dozen LSAs, or Life Support Areas.

It is a fairly bare bones facility comprised of Quonset-like tan tents that serve as living quarters for the Soldiers.

The battalion is stationed at LSA 2.  Besides the numerous living tents, there is a small MWR center, a small religious center, a small dining facility, and a small workout center.

In other words, the men and women here at FOB Pasab are not living big.

The mayor of LSA 2 is Sergeant First Class Thomas Trott.  An easy-going man with a ready smile, he knows everything that goes on in his "town."

"Currently, I am working to enlarge the DFAC," he said over a recent breakfast.  "The SEABEEs will be in here to make a number of changes for the better."

I wondered how the SEABEEs are with controlling the weather.

Right now a cold wind is blowing and the tent I am sitting in and typing these words literally lifts and falls with each gust.

Along with the wind comes the dust - a fine talc powder-like substance that gets into everything.

"It's looks lunar out there," PFC Andrew Kirk said when I stepped into the battalion's command post.

Contrast that with yesterday's 80 degrees and blue skies, and you're starting to get the idea as to how fast the weather can turn.

"Don't worry, continued Kirk.  "It won't be long before the temperature will stay at over 120 degrees and there will be little wind."

But while the wind is now high, morale seems higher.  Soldiers assigned to the motor pool, logistics and medical detachment are upbeat about their missions.

"We're good," SSgt. Bruce Huntress said as he supervised the disentangling of concertina wire from the right rear tire of a MRATV, or Mine Resistant All Terrain Vehicle.

"We know our jobs, and we do them well.  We're a team."   

The battalion is currently working with 4th Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division in the Zharay District.  Serving with the American forces are two battalions of the Afghanistan National Army (ANA).

Companies attached to 5/20 are also working in Command Outposts, or COPs, throughout Zharay in the conducting of counter-insurgency operations.

"Our goal is to connect the government with the people," Lt. Col. Steven Soika, the battalion's commander, said. 

"Our efforts have been going well."

Those efforts are focused on governance, economics, security, attacking the Taliban network and social development.

"Our motto in carrying this mission out is ‘Get After It,'" Capt. Allie Smith, the public affairs officer for the 82nd Airborne, said.

"And this is exactly what we're going to do."

The Soldiers here at FOB Pasab may not have much in the way of fun distractions, but they are committed to completing the mission.

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