Iowa National Guard troops were involved in another firefight after being ambushed by insurgents this week in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood says the Iowans’ base camp had been repeatedly shelled by mortars and they were eventually able to pinpoint the origin of the rocket attacks.
The Guard members did what’s called an “air assault insertion” on Wednesday, as they were airlifted into a nearby village, then cordoned off the village and searched it. They made some arrests of suspected mortar team members and also seized mortars, launchers and items used in making explosives.
About a hundred Iowa National Guard members and Afghan police took part in the operation. By the time the Iowa troops were ready to return to their base, the weather had gotten too foul for the helicopters to fly, so Hapgood says they headed out on foot — and were ambushed.
“It was a very intense firefight for a somewhat brief amount of time, about ten to 15 minutes,” Hapgood says. “After the firefight was over, we took stock of how we were doing. We didn’t have any casualties and we drove off the insurgents and we went about our way.”
He says this is exactly the type of encounter for which the Iowa Guard members have trained for so diligently.
“They have had a number of encounters during this deployment in Afghanistan but that was completely expected,” Hapgood says. “They didn’t expect to go into someplace quiet. There’s a lot of activity there. Our men and women do the very best they can. They’ve got the best tools in the world. They’ve had the best training in the world and they’re ready to face those challenges they might have during this tour.”
About 2,800 Iowa National Guard troops will be deployed in Afghanistan through late next year.