‘TF Steel’ provides security, serves as guardian, enforcer of Torkham Gate

| June 3, 2011 | 0 Comments
Pvt. Stephen Bennet (right), 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., "TF Steel," 3rd BCT, 25th ID, takes fingerprints for the HIIDE System at Torkham Gate, May 21. The process is helping to build a database for future identification.

Pvt. Stephen Bennet (right), 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., "TF Steel," 3rd BCT, 25th ID, takes fingerprints for the HIIDE System at Torkham Gate, May 21. The process is helping to build a database for future identification.

Story and Photo by
Spc. Hillary Rustine
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division 

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Af-ghanistan — Security of the border is a considerable concern for all International Security Assistance Forces, or ISAF, here.

Torkham Gate is the busiest conduit between Afghanistan and Pakistan for people and goods.

U.S. Army Soldiers and Afghan Border Police, or ABP, check each truck carrying cargo, each car carrying people and each person walking across the bridge.

Soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, “Task Force Steel,” 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, are guarding the gate and using the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, or HIIDE System, for documenting and identifying biometric readings.

“The HIIDE System is already doing its job,” said Sgt. Richard Johnson, cannon crewmember, 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., 3rd BCT. “We’re catching bad guys with it. If an improvised explosive device is found with fingerprints, we can identify that person. … We’re like cops out here, making sure bad people aren’t doing bad things.”

The local population is agreeing to documentation, which is an important step toward generating a database of credentials.

“Security is getting better,” said Tahveed Jan, a tailor who makes the arduous journey from Pakistan to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, every month. “This is the first time I’ve been put into the HIIDE System. … Security has improved over the time I’ve been coming to the gate; the HIIDE System is making it safer for all.”

In April 2006, the ABP started requiring travelers crossing the border to possess valid travel documents, according to the U.S. Department of Defence website.

TF Steel and the HIIDE System are helping this slow, but ongoing process.

The ISAF is partnering with the ABP to ensure proper processing and searching techniques are used, subsequently leading to a better understanding of cultural differences.

“Gate guard is all muscle memory and attention to detail,” said Spc. Jonathan Smith, a cannon crewmember, 3rd Bn., 7th FA Regt., 3rd BCT. “I think the interaction is good. The more we show that we aren’t here to take their land from them, but (here) to make it more secure, it will help with understanding each other better.”

This understanding, coupled with better security, shows how important the ISAF partnership is.

With a lessening threat to shipping and foot traffic, due to the security, commerce between the two nations can continue unhindered.

“We’re trying to make a difference, so (the security precautions are) good,” Johnson said, adding that he understands how the long wait can wear on travelers’ patience, but security is the most important part of his job.

The extra time that it takes to be searched and put into the HIIDE System is paying off with less danger to the local population, Johnson added.

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

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