Iowa National Guard soldiers who just arrived in Afghanistan have already been trading shots with the enemy — and made a capture. Guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood confirms a patrol made up of members of Iowa’s First Battalion, 133rd Infantry, were fired upon just a few days after arriving in that country.
“The patrol came under attack,” Hapgood says. “During the course of that firefight, they were able to neutralize insurgents, also being supported by mortars and close-air support from coalition forces.” He says none of the Iowans were injured in the incident on Saturday in the Laghman province of eastern Afghanistan. Hapgood says there was a bonus.
“During the course of that engagement, our Iowa soldiers captured one Taliban member,” Hapgood says. “Everyone’s safe on the patrol. Following that, they were able to head back to their base camp without further incident.” The National Guard soldiers involved in the skirmish are among the first Iowans to arrive in Afghanistan from a very large deployment of some 2,800 troops.
Hapgood says most of the soldiers left Iowa several weeks ago for intensive training at other domestic bases, including in Mississippi and California, before heading overseas. The bulk of them are expected in Afghanistan by Thanksgiving. “That training that our Iowa soldiers go through is so absolutely critical and this is just proof positive of that,” Hapgood says. “This particular unit had already been on the ground but only for a few days when this happened. By virtue of the training and the leadership this unit had, they were able to successfully conduct that operation and get to safety.”
He says the Iowa units will be deployed in Afghanistan about eight to ten more months.