FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – The Mission Command Training Program (MCTP) recently redeployed the last element of the team it sent to Fort Lee to support the establishment of Task Force-Eagle in late July.
The task force, activated by U.S. Northern Command to support Operation Allies Refuge, is a U.S. Department of State-led effort to relocate qualified Afghan nationals eligible for special immigrant visas.
MCTP Soldiers from diverse military specialties brought their skills and experience to reinforce the Army's Combined Arms Support Command, leading the task force.
The augmentees typically coach senior-level headquarter staffs on military planning and operations during military training exercises orchestrated by Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Their experience made them a good fit to support the planning and management of the complex task force mission.
They arrived one week before the installation had to be ready to support the State Department by providing temporary lodging, medical screening, and processing up to 3,500 Afghan special immigrant visa applicants.
Their team had to quickly integrate into the task force, applying their skills and experience to help plan and build the capacity the State Department needed to house and process the Afghans for immigration into the United States.
“The speed at which the MCTP Soldiers deployed and integrated with our team was critical to our ability to prepare for the mission,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Simerly, Task Force Eagle, Fort Lee, and the Combined Arms Support Command commanding general. “They rapidly assumed primary roles in the planning and execution of the operation and became a critical component of our overall success.”
Less than a week later, service members and staff members from multiple government and non-governmental organizations collaborated on Fort Lee to support the mission. Right before the first flight of the Afghans arrived in the U.S., the support and processing areas were established and prepared to process the pending arrival of the visa applicants.
"It was amazing to see how quickly everything came together," said Maj. David Vasquez, an MCTP engineer officer who deployed to support planning. "We all had to come in hard and fast and do everything we could to help prepare the task force to support this critical mission.”
Vasquez went on to highlight personal reasons he and his team had for their dedication to the mission.
"A lot of us served in Afghanistan and worked with Afghan interpreters and others who supported our mission," said Vasquez. "These people and their families put themselves in as much danger as we did, and I'm glad to be part of this effort to help keep them safe."