Task Force in Eastern Afghanistan Keeps Enemy at Bay

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2010 — Despite dif­fi­cult ter­rain and extreme weath­er con­di­tions, the com­man­der of a task force in east­ern Afghanistan said today, his avi­a­tion brigade has been suc­cess­ful in keep­ing the ene­my at bay, sup­port­ing ground units and pro­tect­ing the Afghan peo­ple.

Task Force Fal­con has pre­vent­ed the ene­my from amass­ing com­bat pow­er near U.S. and coali­tion forces, said Army Col. Don­ald Gal­li, who also com­mands the Army’s 3rd Com­bat Avi­a­tion Brigade.

“When they did try to attack, they failed spec­tac­u­lar­ly in the face of our air crews,” he added.

Afghanistan’s dif­fi­cult ter­rain and its unpre­dictable and extreme weath­er make those suc­cess­es even more sig­nif­i­cant, Gal­li told Pen­ta­gon reporters in a video tele­con­fer­ence.

Though suc­cess can be mea­sured by the num­bers of mis­sions flown or ene­my fight­ers killed, Gal­li said, the lev­el of pro­tec­tion it has pro­vid­ed for ground troops and the Afghan peo­ple is the true mea­sure of its suc­cess.

“Task Force Fal­con has direct­ly con­tributed to dis­rupt­ing ter­ror­ist net­works, root­ing out the ene­mies of Afghanistan and pro­tect­ing the Afghan peo­ple,” Gal­li said. “We’ve removed a sig­nif­i­cant amount of insur­gents from the bat­tle­field.” But he and his task force real­ized their suc­cess­es when the troops on the ground under­stood the task force would sup­port them when they were in con­tact with the ene­my, he added.

“We would always take extra­or­di­nary mea­sures to save the lives of Amer­i­can sol­diers, coali­tion forces and Afghan civil­ians,” he said.

Gal­li said the ene­my is a think­ing ene­my who is elu­sive, per­sis­tent and adap­tive and rou­tine­ly changes tac­tics. “But we stay one step ahead of them,” he added.

Gal­li said his task force has flown 1,600 air­lift mis­sions since their deploy­ment began almost a year ago. By the time they leave, he said, they will have logged 160,000 flight hours and moved 20,000 tons of car­go and more than 219,000 per­son­nel.

Task Force Falcon’s main­tain­ers and short­er air­craft are ready to fly at a rate pre­vi­ous­ly unheard-of in com­bat, the colonel said, sup­port­ing ground forces by fly­ing more than 25,000 mis­sions. Gal­li said the task force has con­duct­ed more than 900 air assaults, 5,700 recon­nais­sance and secu­ri­ty mis­sions and more than 3,300 med­ical evac­u­a­tion mis­sions, res­cu­ing more than 5,000 coali­tion troops and Afghan civil­ians.

And Task Force Fal­con is the first avi­a­tion brigade to part­ner with the Afghan military’s air mis­sion, Gal­li said.

“For the last 11 months, we’ve been part­ner­ing with the Afghan air force through [a] rotary-wing con­tin­gent,” he said. “And we’ve been con­duct­ing sev­er­al train­ing pro­grams for them, one of which is an air assault train­ing pro­gram that works with Afghan com­man­dos and the Afghan air force.

“We’ve also taught their crew chiefs how to main­tain their air­craft and how to be crew chiefs,” Gal­li con­tin­ued, “as well as a mede­vac train­ing pro­gram, and also to teach close com­bat attacks with their Hind heli­copters. In our time here, we have seen their capa­bil­i­ty grow expo­nen­tial­ly.”

The Afghans are begin­ning to con­duct air assault oper­a­tions on their own, he not­ed.

Gal­li said he’s encour­aged that the Afghan peo­ple have tak­en note of the progress their mil­i­tary has made. “They were absolute­ly thrilled to see their mil­i­tary con­duct­ing mis­sions,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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