Within the myriad of commands in the US military rests the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A), a temporary sub-element of the greater United States Special Operations Command Central (USSOCCENT or SOCCENT).  Their role has transitioned during the decade-long war against the Taliban in Afghanistan; beginning with special operations against enemy forces hiding in the mountains, and transitioning into a supportive role providing mentorship to their local Afghan partners. Their goal is simple; establish security, promote social advancements, and serve as liaisons between the military and tribal leaders.  Perhaps the latest and most challenging task of CFSOCC-A has been the development of Village Stability Operations (VSO).  Described in a 2011 US Army SWCS article, CFSOCC-A and the importance of the VSOs is explained as thus:
In an effort to help bolster the central government’s authority in these vast uncontrolled and undergoverned areas, the Coalition Forces Special Operations Component Command–Afghanistan, or CFSOCCA, initiated a pilot program beginning in the fall of 2009 to bring stability to a network of villages in remote areas of the south, west and east. Village stability operations, or VSO, originally known as the local defense initiative, aims to bring special-operations forces, or SOF, into local villages and help them establish stability in the form of security, development and governance. These teams of Soldiers in Special Forces, or SF; Civil Affairs, or CA; and Military Information Support Operations, or MISO, actually live in the villages at the invitation of the village, tribal and district leaders who have chosen to stand up to the intimidation tactics of the insurgents. Critical to the VSO concept is teaming with lightly armed villagers to provide local security. This partnership force, known as the Afghan Local Police, or ALP, is helping to drive out the Taliban influence and set the conditions for political and economic improvement from the ground up.
– Catanzaro and Windmueller
Time remains to be the judge on the overall efforts of CFSOCC-A in shaping Afghanistan’s future through the VSOs. However, CFSOCC-A is also conducting community out-reach out programs including the sponsorship of a local orphanage in Kabul highlighted in the Army’s DIVIDS recording.  Efforts such as these provided orphaned children an opportunity to receive medical care, sports equipment, and a small level of an education.
One of the recent advent in challenge coins has been the development of odd-shaped or specialized challenge coins. In the case of the CFSOCC-A Challenge Coin, it is a square coin measuring approximately 3”x2” that doubles as a bottle opener. This will undoubtedly assist in the “Challenging Game” associated to such coins and reflects the tradition is alive and well in CFSOCC-A. Interestingly, the coin also features a manufactured eyelet to assist in carrying on either a lanyard or chain to ensure it is always within easy reach should one be challenged, or need to open a bottle.
Overall, the obverse of the square coin features a representation of the CFSOCC-A crest. Above the crest reads the unit’s “Airborne” distinction while the bottom has a scroll reading “CFSOCC Afghanistan”. The elements of the crest itself are divided between the US and Afghan flags as a backdrop illustrating the join efforts shared in CFSOCC by both nations. On top of these flags are several symbols attributed to CFSOCC-A, a trident for the unit’s three-pronged approach in foreign assistance, wings for the Airborne qualifications, and a dagger (a common symbolism amongst units with non-conventional missions) combine to mirror the unique crest of CFSOCC-A.
The reverse is no less representative of the symbolism in a CFSOCC-A challenge coin. Largest in the center is the Afghan Commando crest. Below are the four operational commands for their representative branches of army, navy, marines, and air force. At the top are the chevrons of the CFSOCC-A Command Sergeant Major and the flags for the commanding Brigadier General. Down the left side is Arabic for Shona ba Shona, loosely translated as “Shoulder to Shoulder”. Down the opposite reads in English “Earning Respect Gaining Acceptance” while the bottom has a scroll reading “CFSOCC-A” above “Presented for Excellence” recognizing who is presenting the coin and its reason.
Other Coin Variables
1. Global Security. Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command (CFSOCC), Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). Global Security. July 6, 2012. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/soccent-cfsocc.htm (accessed November 19, 2012).
2. Hulslander, Robert, and Jake Spivey. “Village Stability Operations and Afghan Local Police.” From the Field (Prism) 3, no. 3: 125-138. http://www.ndu.edu/press/village-stability-operations.html (accessed November 23, 2012).
3. Catanzaro, Basicl, and Kirk Windmueller. “Taking a Stand: Village Stability Operations and the Afghan Local Police.” Special Warfare (The United States Army), July 2011. http://www.soc.mil/swcs/swmag/archive/SW2403/SW2403TakeAStand_VSOAndTheAfghanLocalPolice.html (accessed November 17, 2012).
4. CFSOCC Provides Medical Outreach to Afghan Orphanage. Video. Directed by DVIDSHUB. Produced by YouTube. DVIDSHUB, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itG6iYD0v5k (accessed November 25, 2012).
5. Sacred Symbolism 3D. Insignia of the US Central Command . http://militaryinsignia.blogspot.com/2011/08/insignia-of-us-central-command-up-close.html (accessed November 27, 2012).