Task Force Phoenix completes 9-month mission in the Middle East


With the red and blue colors of the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade donning, Task Force Phoenix’s nine-month mission in the Middle East officially came to an end.

On January 6, 2022, Col. Alan Gronewold, Command Sgt. Major Refugio Rosas and 5th Command Chief Warrant Officer Rich Huber lay the colors during a transfer of authority ceremony in the base theater at Camp Buehring. The ceremony marked the official handover of the mission from Task Force Phoenix to Task Force Eagle, 11th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade.

Left to right: 5th Command Chief Warrant Officer Rich Huber, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jones, Master Sgt. Vergia Farrow, Col. Alan Gronewold and Command Sgt. Major Refugio Rosas in front of the Task Force Phoenix T-wall at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (National Guard photograph by Maj. Jason Sweeney)

“You should all be very proud,” the Air Force Brigadier said. Gen. Brandon Parker, chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, told the soldiers of Task Force Phoenix during the ceremony. “You have worked tirelessly under very difficult conditions to fulfill our mission. And let me just say that I believe our mission is the most righteous – to help rid the world of the most inadmissible evil, and that is ISIS.

Parker said the 40th CAB played a critical role in achieving a lasting defeat of Daesh and ISIS during a period when Operation Inherent Resolve transitioned from combat operations to an advisory and advisory role. assistance.

“Col. Gronewold, Task Force Phoenix, we owe you a debt of gratitude that we can never repay,” Parker said. “You have paved the way for steady progress toward a day when ISIS is just one distant memory.”

Led by the California National Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Phoenix was made up of more than 1,700 soldiers drawn from a mix of active duty and National Guard units from nine states, as well than aviation squadrons from Spain and Italy. The task force’s aeronautical assets included UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache, AS-532 Cougar, and NH-90 Puma helicopters, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial systems.

The task force’s mission was to execute air-to-ground operations in Kuwait, Iraq, the Eastern Syria Security Zone, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield to support the military defeat of Daesh, enable the growth and capacity of partner forces, and deter hostile actors in the region.

The two Army National Guard battalions in the task force were the 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), and 640th Aviation Support Battalion. Active duty Army Task Force Wolfpack, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, fell under Task Force Phoenix until October, when it was replaced by Task Force operatives, 1st attack reconnaissance battalion, 227th aviation regiment. Task Force Toro, from Spain, and Task Force Griffon, from Italy, were under the tactical control of Task Force Phoenix.

“It has been the greatest honor of my military career to have served here with you on this great team of teams,” Gronewold said during the ceremony.

Its soldiers faced many challenges during the deployment, including responsibility for a large operational area spanning five countries in two theaters, extremely high temperatures in the desert, a two-week sandstorm and enemy mortar attacks. , rocket and unmanned aerial system.

“But you and your soldiers persevered and overcame every obstacle in your path,” Gronewold said. “Your accomplishments have been tremendous.”

These achievements included 13,500 crewed flight hours, the safe delivery of 16,300 passengers, the movement of 2.8 million pounds of cargo, the completion of 208 medical evacuation missions and 14,000 unmanned flight hours. . Brigade soldiers fueled aircraft, delivered millions of pounds of cargo overland, performed aircraft maintenance to keep the fleet flying, and many other tasks required of a combat aviation brigade from 1,700 soldiers.

Gronewold thanked his soldiers for enhancing the unit’s reputation and thanked them and their families for the sacrifices they made.

“As you go home, hold your head high with pride for what you’ve accomplished,” he said. “Well done. Phoenix! On fire!”


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