Task Force Iron Returns from Afghanistan Story and photos by Cpt. Jason Uhlig, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment
ALBANY-- New York Army National Guard Soldier Spc. Stephen Freiberger reunites with family during the homecoming of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry from Afghanistan at Albany International Airport Sep. 23. The battalion deployed to Afghanistan as Task Force Iron, conducting security missions in various bases. The first elements of the battalion returned from demobilization at Camp Shelby, Miss., bringing some 200 Soldiers home to their families. Photo by Col. Richard Goldenberg, Joint Force Headquarters.
UTICA -–New York Army National Guard Soldiers from Task Force Iron, a task force built around the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment based here, returned home in late September after some 100 days of combat operations in western Afghanistan. The task force returned from deployment as part of the ongoing drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, the Task Force was responsible for enhancing the capability of Afghan National Security Forces to secure Highway One from Herat City to Nimroz Province. The unit conducted 577 combat missions over the course of the summer fighting season, including combined operations with Afghan soldiers and police, as well as with NATO partners from Italy and Slovenia. “Our biggest accomplishment has been the mentorship we provided to our Afghan partners in the Army and Police,” said Lt. Col. Joseph L. Biehler, commander of Task Force 34
Iron. “We helped them improve their abilities and professionalism to provide security for the population along approximately 200 miles of the most important highway in Afghanistan.” Task Force Iron included most of the Uticabased 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, as well as an intelligence platoon from the Syracuse-based 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and a team of joint terminal attack controllers from the Syracuse-based 274th Air Support Operations Squadron. The unit mobilized in late January with the 27th IBCT and trained for three months at Camp Shelby and Fort Irwin, Calif., before deploying to Afghanistan in early May 2012. The Task Force is the last major U.S. ground unit to have served in Regional Command-West, an Italian led area of operations that includes Baghdis, Farah, Ghor and Herat Provinces. “We will be leaving here knowing that the Afghan Security Forces have made great strides in improving both the security and quality of
life for thousands of Afghans here in western Afghanistan,” Biehler said. “Task Force Iron has the distinct honor of being the last U.S. ground task force in western Afghanistan as our nation approaches the end to all direct combat operations here in 2014.” Units returning with Task Force Iron include the Headquarters and Headquarters Company from Utica, Company B from Peekskill, Company C from Gloversville and Leeds, Company D from Ithaca and Company E, 427th Brigade Support Battalion from Glenville. A small number of Task Force Iron Soldiers will continue to serve in Afghanistan in support of other U.S. units in the country. In addition, more than 250 Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, including all of Company A from Geneseo, N.Y., continue to serve in Kuwait. All battalion Soldiers are expected to redeploy to the United States in January 2013.
Fall 2012 Guard Times Magazine