Just under three months into their mission in Afghanistan, Black Jack soldiers can be proud of their work, said Col. Robert Whittle, commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
“Everywhere we go, everyone is very complimentary of the units and soldiers of the Black Jack Brigade Combat Team,” he said during a phone interview Monday. “(The Army has) done a great job of training (soldiers) and as a result, when they’re given a task or purpose, they execute efficiently.”
3,000 troopers deployed
More than 3,000 troopers from the brigade’s six battalions deployed to the country in July and are now spread throughout three regional commands, as well as in Kabul, providing security and conducting retrograde operations.
“We are actually the last brigade combat team in Afghanistan in the truest sense of brigade combat teams,” he said. “Other brigades out here are security force assistance brigades.”
Black Jack also is available to the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command should anything come up, such as the recent bombing of a consulate in Herat.
On Sept. 13, the Taliban attacked a U.S. consulate in western Afghanistan with car bombs and guns, killing at least four Afghans but failing to enter the compound or hurt any Americans, the Associated Press reported.
Delta “Maddogs” Company, of the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, was sent by ISAF to help secure the area, Whittle said.
“ISAF secured the consulate immediately and the attacks failed,” he said. “(The Maddogs) provided additional security while they repaired force protection at the consulate. ... They’re doing incredibly well at it.”
Meanwhile, other members of that battalion are conducting a convoy escort mission as part of retrograde operations, Whittle said.
Lt. Col. Phil Brooks, commander of 2nd Brigade’s 3rd “Red Dragon” Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, said his soldiers are working the artillery mission north of Kabul.
While soldiers are supporting the security mission through artillery and radar support, he said, they also work closely with the Afghan National Security Forces.
“I’ve got soldiers that are out on patrols supporting the Afghan National Police in what we call ‘over the shoulder,’ because they are in the lead clearly and we are there for support if it’s required,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“It’s refreshing to see the Afghan National Security Forces in the lead.”
Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, said he has heard favorable feedback on the work of the brigade.
“Anytime you put 1st Cavalry Division troopers in a tough mission they are going to rise to the occasion and that’s what you see,” he said. “I’m very proud of the work of 2nd Brigade Combat Team.”
Both Brooks and Whittle agreed the training the brigade received at the Joint Readiness Training Center effectively prepared the unit for the deployment.
“We knew coming in we would be asked to be a part of the theater assistance force,” Brooks said. “Soldiers came in with a great, hard-working attitude and they’re getting after it.”