CAMP NATHAN SMITH, Afghanistan — The end of July did not just mean one less month for ‘Ready First,’ 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armor Division, troops in Afghanistan, it also meant a major milestone in the transition of American forces out of the country.
In another example of the increasing confidence the Afghan government has in its police and soldiers, Ready First transferred the former site of their brigade headquarters, Camp Nathan Smith, to the Afghan Uniform Police.
“CNS has served as a headquarters to ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) for eight years, beginning in 2005 with Canadian forces and since July 2010 for U.S. brigades and the Department of State’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams,” said Col. Ken Adgie, commander of 1st BCT, 1st AD, and a native of National Park, N.J.
Capt. Job Freedman, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, and a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, served as the camp mayor for six months.
“I coordinated … the transfer of the camp to the government of Afghanistan,” said Freedman. “We began the planning process in February and the execution in May. We had to make sure all of our equipment was recovered from CNS and we had to prepare all of the buildings and remaining equipment.”
The AUP, who have already taken ownership, had a quick reaction force at the camp, and they intend to move several more companies here, said Freedman. The Afghans also plan on making a school for women on the camp and to use all the existing facilities, including laundry.
American forces left behind the basic infrastructure, including generators and a working fuel point. According to Freedman, the AUP will be entirely self-sufficient at CNS, indicating the logistical support Afghans have for their own sustainability.
“It is now their responsibility to supply the camp so they can run those facilities,” said Freedman.
“Its location in the heart of Kandahar City allowed ISAF forces to quickly respond to enemy attacks during the early years (of the war); more recently as Kandahar City has become peaceful, its purpose changed to a place for meetings to discuss city governance, developmental projects and the training of policeman occurred,” said Adgie. “We will certainly miss our Afghan neighbors who lived near CNS and the children who waved to us each day as they walked to school.”
“They (AUP) expressed how grateful they were for the help that American and ISAF forces have done for them in helping build up their country,” said Freedman. “They feel ready to take over the camp and continue the mission of securing the province of Kandahar and making sure it’s safe.”
The handful of Soldiers who remained at the camp until the end held a ceremony lowering the American flag and raising the Afghan flag, July 31.
“Camp Nathan Smith’s transfer to the Kandahar Police is another great step forward for southern Afghanistan,” said Adgie.