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    Mission Complete: Oklahoma Guardsmen return from Afghanistan deployment

    Mission Complete: Oklahoma Guardsmen return from Afghanistan deployment

    Photo By Sgt. Brian Schroeder | Sgt. Sara Hayes, signal support systems sergeant for Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 180th...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Brian Schroeder 

    Oklahoma National Guard

    MUSTANG, Okla. – Friends, family and fellow Soldiers were on hand to welcome home Troopers from 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the Mustang High School Football Stadium Tuesday, Sept. 25.

    Nine months ago in December 2017, more than 350 Oklahoma Army National Guard Troopers with 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, in support of the NATO-led train, advise and assist (TAA) Resolute Support Mission and the U.S.-led Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

    With approximately 70 percent of the troopers deploying overseas for the first time, the 180th deployed as part of the Kabul Security Force (KSF), a seven-nation unit including the U.S., U.K., Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Finland and Estonia, all responsible primarily for advisor force protection (AFP) and security support operations throughout the capital, including incident response to attacks within the city and base security alongside the Mongolian Army at KSF’s headquarters, New Kabul Compound.

    “Working side-by-side with many nations and Afghan partners was absolutely an honor,” said Lt. Col. Michael Urrutia, who held multiple titles while in Kabul, including commander of the 180th, deputy commander of the KSF, deputy director of the Enhanced Security Zone (ESZ), and post commander for New Kabul Compound (NKC).

    Within 30 days of the 180th’s arrival in Afghanistan, attacks in Kabul increased significantly. The complex attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel, the hospital bombing near the Old Ministry of Interior and the shooting at Marshal Fahim National Defense University, all occurred in January and all required the 180th’s incident response team, or quick reaction force, to respond alongside their U.K. counterparts.

    The attacks caused a shift in priority of efforts from other parts of the country toward Kabul, making the capital the main effort for nearly six months. This shift also positioned KSF to take on additional mission sets, including oversight of Kabul’s security from both a tactical and TAA perspective, primarily with the newly established ESZ and Kabul’s city gates.

    Part of that mission increase included deterrence operations in order to thwart insurgent networks from attacking the capital. This included route reconnaissance and intelligence gathering alongside coalition partners and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), a familiar and welcomed mission for the cavalrymen whose usual role is reconnaissance.

    “A lot of that focused on some of our recon skills that we got to use,” Urrutia said. “We’d go into unfamiliar terrain, do route reconnaissance and bridge classifications, so that was very familiar and it was very easy to transition to.”

    Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, as well as countries around the world, focused heavily on military operations and security measures within Kabul. As the capital became the main effort, members of the 180th met senior leaders, such as U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, senator for Oklahoma, Gen. John Nicholson, previous commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and the Resolute Support Mission during the 180th’s time in country, Dr. Mark T. Esper, U.S. Secretary of the Army, Gen. (Ret.) James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of Defense, and other high-profile officials from multiple NATO nations.

    “We’re a small unit from a town in Oklahoma most haven’t heard of, and being here during this time allowed us to meet key leaders within our country’s military,” said Capt. Christopher Butler, a 180th member for 17 years and whose father served in the 180th for more than 35 years. “It’s an honor and a memory we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.”

    The 180th also witnessed something historical no other Oklahoma National Guard member has in the past; the first-ever ceasefire with the Taliban in Afghanistan that gave a glimpse of potential peace within the war-torn country.

    In all, members of the 180th completed more than 12,500 missions throughout the capital alongside their coalition partners, from advisor force protection, guardian angel missions, deterrence patrols, aerial reaction force operations and more. While working with nations from around the world, a brotherhood was formed that will forever be part of the 180th’s rich history.

    “You’ve honored your state and your country with your service in Afghanistan,” said British Army Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell, deputy commander for the Resolute Support Mission as he addressed 180th Troopers. “You’ve been an absolutely essential part of the Kabul Security Force and have done your job in a thoroughly colorful and unique way, and we are going to miss seeing the Thunderbird around Kabul in the future.”



    Date Taken: 09.25.2018
    Date Posted: 09.26.2018 15:29
    Story ID: 294504
    Location: MUSTANG, OK, US 

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