Story by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Carolyn Hart, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team
FORT HOOD, Texas — Earlier this year, in support of the State Department, members of the U.S. military and numerous government agencies came together to support the evacuation of Afghan citizens seeking relocation as part of the biggest airlift operation in U.S history.
The coordinated effort to support the Afghan evacuees who came to the U.S. for resettlement, became known as Operation Allies Welcome. Among those who assisted the Department of Homeland Security-led effort of resettling and integrating Afghan evacuees into the U.S. was Task Force Ghost, led by 2nd Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
“This mission was a significant opportunity for our Troopers to support and repay vulnerable Afghans and Afghan who have worked with U.S. and allied nations for the past two decades,” said Lt. Col. Chris Cook, battalion commander with 2-7 Cav. “It was an opportunity to provide closure for our veterans and to help friends in desperate need.”
Having served in the Army since the start of the Afghanistan War, Cook said this mission is one he is particularly proud to have supported.
“On a personal level, this provided an opportunity to repay people with whom we have fought shoulder to shoulder with for the better part of my career,” explained Cook. “Helping their families in their greatest time of need provided closure for me and many of our Afghanistan veterans. On a professional level, watching our leaders take ownership of the mission and problems they encountered was amazing. I could not be more proud of the individual Ghost Trooper and our junior leaders. They are directly responsible for our team’s success.”
Army leaders and Soldiers train regularly to be ready for various types of missions but there are
instances, like this one, where a unique opportunity arises for them to challenge themselves and put their readiness to the test. Task Force Ghost, in support of DHS and other interagency partners, built a village capable of supporting 7,000 people in less than a week at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.
“Kinetic operations are more stressful at times, but supporting an entire city of 7,000 had its own unique challenges,” said Maj. Thomas Lorenson, executive officer for 2-7 Cav. “I am very happy that I served alongside leaders who were both inspiring and experienced.”
Leadership truly made a difference in the battalion’s ability to accomplish this mission, and that support was not limited to the leadership on ground.
“Without the support of the entire 3rd Brigade “GREYWOLF” team, none of this mission would have been possible,” said Lorenson. “The leadership at the brigade deployed our battalion on short notice and helped sustain operations, allowing 2-7 Cav to focus on the people and our mission.”
Recently, 2-7 Cav returned to Fort Hood and passed their important mission on to Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div.
“It is a great privilege to take part in an extremely important mission such as this,” Lt. Col. Damasio Davila, battalion commander with 2-12 Cav. “We have a unique opportunity to represent our nation, and display good will and hospitality. “The “Thunderhorse” team is honored to support Operation Allies Welcome.”
This mission has left a meaningful impact on the 2-7 Cav leadership that will last a lifetime.
“In the background of mass evacuations, the stress of moving between a series of impromptu camps, the stress of navigating the resettlement process, kids are playing,” recalls Cook. “Kids are the same everywhere, eager to learn, eager to play, immune from many of their surroundings. I am glad they will have incredible opportunities here.”