The end is near
The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the New York Army National Guard is nearing the end of its tour in its mission as Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII.
The 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Illinois Army National Guard is slated to succeed the 27th as Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII following a formal Transfer of Authority later this month.
Col. Brian K. Balfe, commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, took command April 26 at Camp Phoenix, Kabul. The reorganized task force presently comprises more than 8,000 servicemen and women from all U.S. branches, including Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, coalition military partners and civilian professionals, spread over nearly 260 Forward Operating Bases throughout Afghanistan. Following a realignment of forces in late summer, the 2nd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment fell under the operational control of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII and has since been replaced by a new special Marine Air-Ground Task Force, including the 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment.
Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix is fully 85 percent of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, with the mission to mentor and train the Afghan National Army and Police, and provide assistance to the government of Afghanistan and its people.
“I am extremely proud of every service member in the task force and the contributions they made to the Afghan National Security Forces,” said Col. Balfe. “We have made a significant difference in the lives of the Afghan people and their government.
“Commanding the 27th and Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix has been the proudest moment of my life and the most rewarding experience of my short, 25-year military career, both on active duty and in the Guard.”
Fully 1,700 members of New York’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were mobilized for the mission, the largest numbers from a single state thus far deployed for Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix. The soldiers came from communities across New York and formed the largest single deployment from the New York National Guard in recent memory. About 230 of these soldiers were mobilized in September 2007, while the main body was called up in January.
Hundreds of New York soldiers are serving in Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix as trainers, advisors, mentors, security forces, logisticians and staff. Many have experience in state and later federal active duty after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Soldiers who are also members of the New York city police and fire departments are serving here.
The New York National Guard is the only part of America’s military force that served at Ground Zero. Roughly a third of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team team in Afghanistan has already served in previous deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII has been part of several accomplishments since the Transfer of Authority on April 26.
- The Afghan National Army has grown by 6 kandaks (battalions), resulting in 7,382 additional Afghan soldiers.
- 24 Afghan National Army kandaks were validated CM-1 for independent operations, resulting in 25 percent of the kandaks validated as capable of independent operations.
- Assisted in the planning and execution of over 100 major named operations with the Afghan National Security Forces.
- The Afghan National Army fielded thousands of modern NATO weapons and equipment, including M16A2 rifles and UAHs, improving their capabilities while reducing their vulnerabilities to enemy actions.
- Established a Counter Improvised Explosive Device team that trained thousands of Afghan soldiers and policemen.
- $202 million has been committed to more than 700 separate construction and improvement projects at Forward Operating Bases, Company Outposts and District Centers across Afghanistan in support of U.S. and Afghan National Security Forces.
- $39 million obligated through the Commander’s Emergency Response Program to build roads, schools, clinics, dig wells, etc. to improve living conditions for the Afghan people.
- Over 1,250 tons of humanitarian assistance aid delivered to women, children, schools and orphanages, an average of approximately 150 tons per month.
- Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII also conducted hundreds of humanitarian assistance and civil medical assistance operations in conjunction with Afghan National Security Forces, improving quality of life for ordinary Afghans while enhancing the bonds between the people, Afghan National Security ForcesF and their government
- Established Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix Logistics Cell enabling the Afghan National Security Forces to receive more of the equipment and weapons they need sooner through increased support and development of the Afghan logistical system and capabilities, expediting modernization and long term sustainability of its forces
- During Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII, significant improvements were made in the Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix vehicle fleet, including the installation of the latest electronic counter measures to help defeat the threat posed by Improvised Explosive Devices and the fielding of new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles and additional armor kits for humvees. As a result, the safety and survivability of task force personnel has been enhanced along with their ability to perform the mission assigned.
Lt. Col. Paul Fanning is submitting photos to accompany this blog in a gallery, "Pictures from the Front." To view the gallery, click here.