Ft Leavenworth Soldiers return from Operation Allies Refuge support

By Maj. Orlandon HowardSeptember 15, 2021

Ft. Lee Garrison Command Sgt. Maj., Command Sgt. Maj. Tamisha Love welcomes an Afghan child to Ft. Lee with a U.S. flag during reception operations, Aug. 5, 2021. The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible.  This initiative provides the Afghans essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan.  (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Tom Burcham IV)
Ft. Lee Garrison Command Sgt. Maj., Command Sgt. Maj. Tamisha Love welcomes an Afghan child to Ft. Lee with a U.S. flag during reception operations, Aug. 5, 2021. The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible. This initiative provides the Afghans essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Tom Burcham IV) (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Tom Burcham IV) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

U.S. Army Gen. Paul Funk II, commanding general, Training and Doctrine Command, awards a coin of excellence to Maj. Jeremy Medaris for exemplary support during Operation Allies Refuge Aug. 5, 2021 at Ft. Lee, Virginia. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Nelson)
U.S. Army Gen. Paul Funk II, commanding general, Training and Doctrine Command, awards a coin of excellence to Maj. Jeremy Medaris for exemplary support during Operation Allies Refuge Aug. 5, 2021 at Ft. Lee, Virginia. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Nelson) (Photo Credit: Spc. Cody Nelson) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

Civilian contractors construct support structures for Operation Allies Refuge, July 26, 2021 in preparation for the arrival of Afghan special immigrant applicants at Fort Lee, Virginia. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Rodrigo)
Civilian contractors construct support structures for Operation Allies Refuge, July 26, 2021 in preparation for the arrival of Afghan special immigrant applicants at Fort Lee, Virginia. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Rodrigo) (Photo Credit: Spc. Christopher Rodrigo) VIEW ORIGINAL

“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.

Buses transporting Afghan special immigrant applicants arrive from Dulles International Airport and reach the Holiday Inn Express hotel in support of Operation Allies Refuge, July 30, 2021 at Fort Lee, Virginia. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely. (U.S. Army photo By Spc. Christopher Rodrigo)
Buses transporting Afghan special immigrant applicants arrive from Dulles International Airport and reach the Holiday Inn Express hotel in support of Operation Allies Refuge, July 30, 2021 at Fort Lee, Virginia. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely. (U.S. Army photo By Spc. Christopher Rodrigo) (Photo Credit: Spc. Christopher Rodrigo) VIEW ORIGINAL

"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."

Members of the Department of State, Department of Defense, and Non-Governmental Organizations work together to welcome and guide Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Applicants into their hotel, August 7, 2021 at Fort Lee, Virginia. The applicants are staying at Fort Lee temporarily to complete the final stages of their visa application process as part of Operation Allies Refuge, led by the Department of State. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely.(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Nelson)
Members of the Department of State, Department of Defense, and Non-Governmental Organizations work together to welcome and guide Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Applicants into their hotel, August 7, 2021 at Fort Lee, Virginia. The applicants are staying at Fort Lee temporarily to complete the final stages of their visa application process as part of Operation Allies Refuge, led by the Department of State. The Department of Defense, in support of the Department of State, is providing transportation and temporary housing for Afghan special immigrant applicants recently relocated to the United States to complete the final steps of the immigration process. This initiative follows through on America's commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States, and provides them essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan, where they and their families can complete the Special Immigrant Visa process safely.(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Nelson) (Photo Credit: Spc. Cody Nelson) VIEW ORIGINAL