POSTED: 9:29 a.m. HST, Jul 5, 2011
Schofield Barracks soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, the 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds” are on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan, stationed at Combat Outpost Pirtle King in the mountains of Kunar province on the border with Pakistan.
CNN reporter Nick Paton Walsh and his crew are embedded with the Hawaii-based soldiers and chronicled their daily routine in the warzone and a firefight that broke out last week as the unit turned back an attack by enemy forces.
Ten Schofield soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team have been killed in mountainous and rebellious Kunar — the site of some of the greatest U.S. losses in the 10-year war — since the unit's 3,500 soldiers left in March.
Kunar province is a transit route for militants coming from Pakistan and the soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment "Wolfhounds" are a key force in maintaining security in the area.
On his last Fourth of July in uniform before becoming the new CIA director, Gen. David Petraeus said the focus of the war is shifting from Taliban strongholds in the south to areas like Kunar on the eastern border with Pakistan where insurgents closest to al-Qaida and other militants hold sway.
Petraeus said that come fall, more special forces, intelligence, surveillance and air power will be concentrated in areas along Afghanistan’s rugged eastern border with Pakistan. There will be substantially more Afghan boots on the ground in the east and perhaps a small number of extra coalition forces as well.
“There could be some small (coalition) forces that will move, but this is about shifting helicopters — lift and attack. It’s about shifting close-air support. It’s about shifting, above all, intelligence, surveillance and recognizance assets,” he said in interviews with The Associated Press and three other news outlets.
"It's nasty territory — it's rocky, it's dangerous, it's on the Pakistan border — but our soldiers are making a difference there," Master Sgt. James Guzior, a 25th Infantry Division spokesman at Schofield, told the Star-Advertiser last week.
The 3rd Brigade operates in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces from fewer than 10 forward operating bases and multiple combat outposts.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.