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    Camp Marmal air attack transfers authority

    Task Force Reaper cases its colors

    Photo By Lt.j.g. Bryan Mitchell | Lt. Col. James Schreffler and Sgt. Maj. David Gail case Task Force Reaper colors...... read more read more



    Story by Lt.j.g. Bryan Mitchell 

    ISAF Regional Command North

    CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan – Ten thousand air passengers. Six thousand flight hours. Nine hundred missions. Seventy one convoy support missions. Forty six air assault missions.

    And one long trip home.

    Task Force Reaper concluded their yearlong tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the final six months spent here providing critical helicopter air support, by reflecting on their impressive accomplishment.

    “You endured long nights, hot and dusty days and cold mud. Lots of cold,” said Task Force Reaper commander Lt. Col. James P. Schreffler. “And you did it wall with pride, professionalism and most of all you did it safely. I am very proud to be part of this organization. “

    The unit, led by the Missouri National Gaurd 1-135th Air Attack/Reconnaissance Battalion with active duty units in support, handed control of the rotary wing support mission to Task Force Attack, led by the 1-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.

    It is also comprised of both active duty and National Guard soldiers and is led by Lt. Col. Phillip Baker.

    “The mission here is tough, and we understand the importance of providing reliable and lethal aviation support,” Baker said moments after assuming authority.

    Regional Command North commander German Maj. Gen. Vorg Vollmer thanked Task Force Reaper for providing critical air support the burgeoning Afghan National Security Forces during the first year when the Afghans led the fight.

    “For a long time, we fought for them and we sacrificed a lot to buy time for them. Now it’s time for us to step back and let them take the fight,” Vollmer said. “In 2013, with your support, they proved they were ready for the challenge.”

    Vollmer pointed to the relative calm across the nine provinces of Regional Command North, and the Afghans steady focus on preparing for the pending national election in April as evidence of their commitment to lead the fight.

    “There are 123 districts here in the North. Not a single district has fallen into the hands of the enemy,” Vollmer said. “There are districts where they have to fight heavily, but in the end the enemy has not been successful.”

    Task Force Reaper also played a critical role in supporting the ongoing withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Afghanistan. Here in the north, that translated to providing critical air support for the retrograde of equipment and personnel from Forward Operating Base Kunduz, a strategic and symbolic victory for the soldiers who conducted the work as well as the larger coalition.

    Kunduz is where the war against the Taliban government began in 2001 and where German forces who control the north sustained their heaviest combat losses since World War II staving off a resurgent foe who threatened to destabilize the region.

    Instead, the German-led coalition in the north fought a sustained campaign that starting in 2008 that saw the enemy vanquished in Kunduz and allowed for the Afghan National Army to assume command of the military outpost left by the coalition.

    “Kunduz is history, and not a single soldier lost,” Vollmer said. “Under the coverage you provided, It was very decisive and you did a great mission.”

    Schreffler was particularly proud of the convoy assistance missions his troops conducted, knowing soldiers are enjoying reunions with family and friends thanks his team’s steadfast support.

    Vollmer stressed the criticality of continuing success for Task Force Attack.

    The continued withdrawal of coalition troops, which includes the transfer of authority of several more forward operating bases to Afghan control, as well as the ongoing combat support of the nation’s security forces, increasingly capable but still maturing.

    “We will continue to stand in the second row, serving as a sort of life insurance policy for the Afghans,” Vollmer said. “They don’t want us to be out front, they are ready and able to continue in the lead, but to serve as a backbone for their fight remains important.”

    Baker, a veteran of deployments to both Kosovo and Iraq, said his troops are up to the challenge.

    “We build a partnership, do it as a team, supporting those on the ground, take care of one another and, most important, win in all that we do,” he said. “We have 100 percent confidence in each of our troopers.”



    Date Taken: 01.24.2014
    Date Posted: 01.28.2014 02:34
    Story ID: 119738
    Location: CAMP MARMAL, AF 

    Web Views: 1,227
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