Task Force Phoenix halfway through the Middle East mission

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The soldiers of Task Force Phoenix endured intense heat with peaks reaching over 120 degrees for nearly four months while conducting operations in five countries in the Middle East.

“It is an extremely difficult and austere environment,” said Col. Alan Gronewold, commander of Task Force Phoenix. “Our soldiers work around the clock to fly and repair planes, refuel planes, move and repair vehicles, move cargo by land and air, throughout the theater of operations.”

As Task Force Phoenix passes halfway through its nine-month deployment, the desert heat has finally subsided, with daily peaks falling almost below 100 degrees.

“Our soldiers have performed brilliantly so far and they are reaching their peak right now,” Gronewold said. “I expect them to maintain their high performance for the remainder of the deployment. “

Task Force Phoenix is ​​a combat aviation brigade mandated to conduct air-to-ground operations in Kuwait, Iraq, the Eastern Syria Security Zone, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the support for Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield to support Daesh’s military defeat. , enable the growth and capacity of partner forces and deter Iranian aggression.

Led by the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade of the California National Guard in Fresno, Calif., Task Force Phoenix consists of more than 1,200 soldiers from active duty aviation units and the National Guard from nine states. The Task Force’s assets include UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle air systems. It is a multinational force that includes aviation units from Spain and Italy.

Soldiers from Task Force Phoenix began arriving in the theater in April. On May 16, his soldiers relieved Task Force Anvil, led by the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Since then, Task Force Phoenix soldiers have flown more than 16,000 flight hours, moved more than 10,000 passengers and 1.7 million pounds of equipment, and performed 551 VIP flights throughout the Combined Joint Operations Area. .

“What we have done so far is allow Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve to have complete freedom of maneuver around the area of ​​operations,” said Gronewold. “We do this by moving essential personnel and merchandise around the theater. We move distinguished visitors to their movements on the battlefield so that they can come out to their troops. We perform round-the-clock critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance through our Gray Eagle company. Our Apache attack helicopters also perform reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and force protection missions. While they gather intelligence on Daesh, they also help deter our enemies from attacking our bases in Iraq and Syria.

Phoenix Command Task Force Staff Sgt. Major Refugio Rosas said the families back home played a vital role in the success of the mission. “Our soldiers overcame multiple challenges moving from place to place, adapting to the battlefield, working around the clock,” Rosas said. “They are doing a great job, getting over all of those hardships soldiers have when they are away from home and their families and adjusting to something new. They complete the mission 120% every day and are doing very well. First of all, I want to thank the families. I want to thank the families for their support of our soldiers and our mission.

With Task Force Phoenix crossing the midpoint, Gronewold and Rosas said soldiers must stay focused and beware of complacency.

“Stay focused on the mission and make yourself and your families proud by improving the reputation of your unit until the end of the deployment,” said Gronewold. “Don’t focus too much on coming home. We’ll be home when we get home.

“Our soldiers are doing great things,” Rosas said. “No matter what rank, rank or position they occupy, each of our soldiers is a big part of the mission. I am proud of everything they have accomplished so far and everything they will accomplish in the future.


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