Story by: LTC Paul Fanning - TF Phoenix Public Affairs Dated: Mon, Sep 15, 2008
CAMP PHOENIX, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN(15 September 2008) -- The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) of the New York Army National Guard has past the mid-tour point in its mission as Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII (CJTF-Phoenix.)
Colonel Brian K. Balfe, commander of the 27th IBCT took over command last April 26 at Camp Phoenix, Kabul. The task force is comprised of nearly 9,500 service men and women from all U.S. branches including Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, coalition partners and civilian professionals spread over nearly 260 Forward Operating Bases throughout Afghanistan.
CJTF-Phoenix is part 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 daily contributions they are making to improve the Afghan National Security Forces, support the government and help the people,” said Colonel Balfe. “It is remarkable that so much has been accomplished by our trainers and mentors, our security and logistical personnel, and the various staff sections in the five months we have been here. We are determined to make the most of the time left to us and ensure that our successors from the 33rd Brigade Combat Team from Illinois will be able to transition in smoothly, pick up from us, and keep this mission moving forward,” he said.
Nearly 1700 members of New York’s 27th IBCT were mobilized for the mission, the largest numbers from a single state thus far deployed for CJTF-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 of last year while the main body was called up in January.
Hundreds of New York Soldiers are serving in CJTF-P as trainers, advisors, mentors, security-force, logistics and staff. Many have experience in state and later federal active duty after the 9-11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which were commemorated in a September 11th ceremony at Camp Phoenix. Soldiers who are also members of the NYPD and FDNY 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 IBCT team in Afghanistan has already served in previous deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
National Guard personnel from many states serve as embedded trainers, security-force personnel, logistical and support staff, and in assignments in the task force and subordinate regional security integration command headquarters.
CJTF-Phoenix VII Accomplishments since Transfer of Authority on 26 April 2008
The Afghan National Army has grown by 10,000 new Soldiers.
19 more Afghan National Army Battalions, known as Kandaks, have been validated for independent operations.
CJTF Phoenix VII has assisted in the planning and execution of 78 combat operations of the Afghan National Security Forces.
900 new Afghan National Police graduated at the end of June through the Focused District Development program and more are in training now.
Under CJTF-Phoenix VII the Afghan National Army has begun to receive and be trained on up armored humvees and NATO weapons including M16 rifles to replace their worn out Soviet-era weaponry thus improving their capabilities.
More than 1/4 billion dollars has been committed to more than 400 separate construction and improvement projects for both ANSF and U.S. forces.
$32 million have been obligated through our Commanders Emergency Response Program to build roads, schools, wells, clinics, etc to improve living conditions for the Afghan people.
1000 tons of humanitarian assistance aid has been delivered to women, children, schools and orphanages - an average of about 150 tons per month.
CJTF-Phoenix has also conducted more than 100 humanitarian assistance and civil medical assistance operations - an average of about 25 visits or drops per month.