One UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, lands at Camp Kunduz, Afghanistan, as another Black Hhawk prepares to touch down, Aug. 1, 2011. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Armas)
CAMP KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (August 23, 2011) — They started from scratch. Arriving at Camp Kunduz in mid May, Soldiers from Task Force Guns, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, had their work cut out for them. The Soldiers were tasked to convert an area of operations that was suited for a small platoon-sized element into one in which a battalion-sized element could thrive in.
“We anticipated austere conditions prior to getting out here, and austere conditions are exactly what we found,” said Lt. Col. Jeff White, commander, TF Guns, 1st ACB, originally from Boston.
Despite the challenging conditions and lack of amenities, Task Force Guns hit the ground running. The task force assumed responsibility for its combat mission almost immediately after touching ground, providing ground elements with air weapon teams, air medical evacuation and air assault capabilities.
The command placed key emphasis, White said, on establishing sound relationships and a high level of trust and confidence with the ground forces, recognizing that supporting those forces is TF Guns’ primary objective in Regional Command North.
The demand for that support is constant in Kunduz. Day and night, seven days a week, TF Guns’ aircraft take to the skies, providing air assets wherever needed.
Moreover, building up the area of operations and sustaining combat operations simultaneously has proven to be quite the balancing act, added White.
The brigade commander, Col. John Novalis, credits the task force’s motivated Soldiers and engaged leadership with taking initiative and going above and beyond their normal duties to continuously support the combat mission and work to improve living and working conditions at the same time.
The hard work is paying off, as improvements in force protection and living conditions are becoming more evident each and every day, added White.
Furthermore, TF Guns Soldiers are not only contributing to the overall mission success of RC North. Troopers from the task force can also be found flying over the skies of Regional Command South.
Guns’ element in the south is currently attached to the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
White touched on what Guns’ element in the south has accomplished so far.
“Our team in the south is primarily supporting special operations forces and has already executed a considerable amount of successful combat missions to this point,” said White.
Finally, a recurring theme from both commanders is that the mentality and demeanor of the Soldiers from TF Guns have been key elements to the overall success of the task force in Afghanistan.
“The Soldiers [from TF Guns] attacked their difficult mission from the beginning with a positive attitude, passion and discipline that has exceeded my expectations,” said Novalis.