News: Delivering CTF 77 to the fight
Story by Capt. Richard Barker
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan – Some missions in Afghanistan are so sensitive little can be said about them without providing unnecessary risk to those who perform the missions. The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, which provides air support across more than 25 forward operating bases throughout Regional Command South, supports several units from across the globe that perform some of these sensitive missions.
One such unit, known as Combined Task Force 77, is composed of highly trained Lithuanian and Latvian special operations forces. Lithuania and Latvia, two European countries each about the size of West Virginia who share the coast of the Baltic Sea, have teamed with the International Security Assistance Forces as members of NATO.
While specific missions and locations cannot be divulged, CTF 77 provides military assistance to Afghan special police forces, while also conducting direct action and special reconnaissance missions.
Within the 25th CAB, the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment provides air support and air mobility to CTF 77 allowing them to react and move quickly across Zabul province.
“We work in close operation with 2-25 on hasty and deliberate operations,” said deputy commander of CTF 77 Maj. T., who asked not to be further identified due to the sensitivity of his mission. “We understand and know each other which make operations smooth.”
Much like Afghanistan, Lithuania and Latvia have a history of Soviet occupation. This is a history that Lithuanians maintain pride in due to its resistance to Soviet control and its triumph in being the first Soviet Republic to successfully declare independence. Latvia declared its independence shortly after Lithuania in 1991, the same year.
“We have a very professional relationship,” said Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Ingraham, deliberate operations planner, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-25, 25th CAB, a native of Manitou Springs, Colo. “They understand our capabilities and know what assets to request from us.”
CTF 77 has been working with aviation brigades in RC-South since 2010; they have been working with 2-25 since February.
In regard to working with U.S. forces, Maj. T. said, “We both want to have successes. This is the effect that we share which brings us together.”
With emphasis he added, “We both have a will to fight.”
It has been 21 years since Lithuania and Latvia declared their independence. Today, the Lithuanian and Latvian soldiers carry the lessons of their proud history as they stand side-by-side with the people of Afghanistan to help them achieve their own.