FORT HOOD, TX — From August to October, 81 members of 1st Cavalry Division’s Sustainment Brigade deployed to Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. as part of Task Force Wagonmaster. During this deployment, the task force supported the Department of Homeland Security's Operation Allies Welcome mission by providing essential personnel services such as reception, processing and onward movement of Afghans.
Task Force Wagonmaster rapidly deployed to Dulles upon being alerted.
“We had a no notice call on Thursday and were out the door on Friday. Being able to go up there and help 45,000 Afghan guests transition to the United States was very rewarding,” said 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade Commander, Col. Anthony L. Wilson. “The cornerstone of our formation is standards and discipline, and for the Soldiers that went with me to be able to execute that operation made me extremely proud.”
Task Force Wagonmaster received the guests from the point of debarkation, gave them a safe place to rest and recuperate, provided COVID-19 vaccination shots and manifested them for onward movement to safe havens throughout the country.
1CDSB Soldiers from various sections put work into Operation Allies Welcome, including TAC Operations, S1 (human resources), S2 (intelligence), S6 (communications), Intake and Manifest.
“I think the importance of Operation Allies Welcome is to show not only the American people, but our Afghan allies that we stand with them, even through events such as this,” says Spc. Melita Blue, Sustainment Brigade S2 Analyst. “We say that we’re going to be there to help, rescue and save, and we followed through with that.”
During the height of operations at the Dulles International Airport, Task Force Wagonmaster welcomed approximately 4,000 Afghan guests a day, providing logistical capabilities for the operation in support of the lead agency, the Department of Homeland Security, alongside interagency partners FEMA, USAID, and multiple non-government contractors that volunteered their services to assist in the successful reception of our Afghan guests.
OAW continually evolved, leading Soldiers to continually adapt to overcome dynamic circumstances.
“At any moment, something could change or be added making the operation unpredictable,” says Sgt. 1st Class Teosha Profit, Task Force Wagonmaster TAC NCOIC. “I learned the importance of leaders remaining flexible.”
OAW was a unique operation, because Task Force Wagonmaster Troopers rarely worked within the boundaries of their fields. The Soldiers had to learn new job requirements in a short time span, and be able to execute said job requirements in an efficient manner.
“Managing junior Soldiers to be more diverse is something I think all leaders took pride in,” says Profit. “With that, Soldiers developed a sense of pride in being a member of the Task Force Wagonmaster Team.”
In the beginning, Task Force Wagonmaster worked around the clock to ensure a successful integration of our Afghan allies.
“It was hard, took a lot of hours, blood, sweat and tears,” says Blue. “We pulled ourselves together for our Afghan allies, and I would do it again if given the opportunity. Being able to see the smiles and know that you're there to help someone, and that First Cavalry Division was the first impression for a lot of those means a lot.”
“It was very rewarding being a part of their transition, leaving Afghanistan and being welcomed into the United States, seeing them get a new chapter in their life after what they were leaving,” said Wilson. “We always stand ready to support and be ready to give the shirt off our back and boots off our feet to sustain the fight.”
“This initiative follows through on America’s commitment to vulnerable Afghans and provides them essential support at locations where they and their families can finalize their immigration processing safely,” said 1st Cavalry Division Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra. “DoD, in support of State Department, is proud to make these accommodations and services available to vulnerable Afghans.”
For more information on this program, please contact the Department of Homeland Security Public Affairs National Joint Information Center at NJIC@HQ.DHS.GOV or the U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs media office at (719) 554-6899/N-NCPA.OMB@mail.mil