U.S. Army Maj. Peter Sulewski, Resolute Support's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities integration cell director, works with a Afghan National Army (ANA) Scan Eagle Mission Coordinator in Kandahar (NATO photo by Jackie Faye)
By: Jackie Faye, Resolute Support Public Affairs
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – He just finished working out at the gym when he got the news that would forever change his life. As a U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadet he knew he was going to war. U.S. Army Maj. Peter Sulewski was only 20 years old when he watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center in New York City – his hometown.
Nearly 11,000 kilometers across the globe, a 10-year-old Afghan boy in Baghlan watched the same story unfold on his family’s hidden television. Afghanistan was under Taliban rule and televisions were on the long list of forbidden items.
Later, the world would learn al Qaeda was behind the attack that killed 2,977 people in New York City, Washington, DC and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
Under the Taliban, al Qaeda was using Afghanistan to train its fighters.
That 10-year-old Afghan boy, now 27, is an Afghan National Army (ANA) Scan Eagle Mission Coordinator, working side by side with Sulewski, to ensure there will not be another 9/11. Sulewski works as Resolute Support’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities integration cell director.
The Scan Eagle program enables the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to collect information about the enemy using drones.
Since the program started three years ago, they have been able to locate enemy headquarters, training centers, and mining fields. They also serve as eyes in the sky for the ANA ground troops as the execute counter-terrorism missions.
"In three years to be able to get to this level of proficiency is pretty amazing,” said Sulewski. "It is not perfect, but with the right guidance, leadership, and assistance these guys can perform to standard.”
The Afghans have launching sites across the country to ensure terrorists have nowhere to hide in Afghanistan. The drone is also hard to detect as it watches the enemy below.
"The main job of the Scan Eagle is to find any terrorist safe haven and then we share those locations with U.S. Forces Afghanistan, and often times they call in for air support or the Afghan Air Force responds,” said the soldier from Baghlan.
The Afghans did exactly that in February when the Scan Eagle spotted a Taliban mortar team in Urozgan province’s capital city, Tarinkot. The information was given to the U.S. Forces Afghanistan who sent in air support to take them out.
"When the Scan Eagle flies the terrorists have no place to hide. We can find them, we can maintain eyes on them, they cannot operate without us knowing and seeing where they are going and how they are operating,” said Sulewski.
Established in 2015, Resolute Support (RS) is a NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), who assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan’s security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.