HomeNewsArticle Display

Mission complete: Reapers finish base security role in Afghanistan

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- After a five-hour vehicle and foot patrol outside of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Tech. Sgt. Gary Rand sets his gear down and talks to his fellow Airmen about the mission.

The Reapers have just pulled into their compound after the final “outside the wire” mission patrolling an area around the airfield to prevent indirect fire attacks to the base.

Rand was the Reaper 10 squad leader on the mission and was thankful the Reapers ended on a good note.

“On today’s mission, we (conducted) a dismounted patrol in a typical area where insurgents shoot rockets onto base, and we went out there to mitigate their movement,” Rand said. “It went smoothly; we crossed a few walls, some small, some big.” The mission ended with everyone safe and no equipment lost.

“It’s kind of historic. It’s not often that you can say that you are the last security forces … to conduct a (ground) combat mission in Afghanistan,” he added.

The 755th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, also known as the Reapers, provides security beyond the base’s perimeter and actively pursues improvised explosive device emplacers and those shooting rockets and mortars onto base.

After the final mission, Senior Airman Andrew Sundgaard reflected on the time spent with the Reapers.

“It’s an honor to perform the last mission of the 755th,” said Sundgaard, the Reaper 10 radio telephone operator. “It’s a great feeling to know we’ve come here and accomplished our mission and done everything we can to keep the base safe.

“I learned a lot from this experience. It’s a very unique experience for our career field, a mission that we don’t do often, but it’s a mission that we have the skill sets to do,” Sundgaard added.

The squadron comprises multiple security forces units from around the Air Force, including Air National Guard members from the 105th Airlift Wing in Newburgh, N.Y. One of the largest units is from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., where rotations of Airmen from the 820th Base Defense Group have been normally rotating to the squadron.

The diverse group of Airmen has been increasingly teaming up with Afghan national security forces to provide base outer security.

“We believe the Afghan National Police are much stronger and more aggressive and have taken more responsibility for the security of the base than previous years,” said Lt. Col. Seth Frank, the 755th ESFS commander. “While working with the ANP, we have really pushed the insurgents out of many of the named areas of interest. Although they are still taking shots at the base, their accuracy this year is less than half of what it was in years previously.

“There have been no complex attacks at Bagram since the Reapers were assigned to provide the outside the wire security of Bagram,” Frank added. “In the last three months, we’ve seen a lot less roadside bombs emplaced and certainly less that have actually developed hits on coalition force members. “We’ve really kept the main supply routes as well as the brigade supply routes open and allowed freedom of maneuver for the coalition forces.”

With the Reaper’s mission drawing to a close, the battle space will be transferred to multiple units.

“We believe the ANP will step up as we leave, and we think we put them in a good condition (for success), but in addition to that, our collation brethren, the Czech (Republic) army force protection company has moved in,” Frank said. “We have done a (relief in place, transfer of authority) with the Czechs, and we feel they are very comfortable with the battle space and have the knowledge to set in and take over when we leave out.”

From here, the unit will inactivate, and the members will return to their home station.

“These superb young men and women have done an outstanding job. They have been amazingly courageous and resilient,” Frank said.

Frank has carried an American flag with him to honor Staff Sgt. Todd Lobraico, who was killed Sept. 5. He said he plans to return it to his family upon arrival back to the United States.

As the final vehicle rolled into the compound, all 180 members of the squadron stood outside the Reaper headquarters building as the truck commanders led their vehicles back to their spots.

Rand summed up his experience with his squad during the last six months.

“We started out as 21 individuals from different bases and we ended up becoming a family and becoming a team.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
Let's start this #B2uesday off right and ready! @Whiteman_AFB https://t.co/u4zY77HJWx
Find out how integrated #combat turns, or ICTs, are making a major impact on combat operations! @DMAFB https://t.co/EBezmHLrgq
RT @DeptofDefense: #PresidentsDay was initially created to honor the birthday of George Washington, but since then, it’s become a day to ho…
#MentorMonday: To whom do you look for guidance? https://t.co/u6nQ44PrZz
An #Airman @124thFighterWing participates in a Major Readiness Exercise at #GowenField in #Boise, Idaho. (… https://t.co/PzSIjWaxF3
Catch up on #USAF news w/ this edition of Around the #AirForce! https://t.co/CTXpTp0vMX
.@374AirliftWing #Airmen are testing the M50 protective mask as the primary aircrew chemical defense ensemble.… https://t.co/4j3fhi0AHt
.@CivilAirPatrol National Commander leads over 60k volunteer #Airmen, and their roles are steadily increasing in… https://t.co/koF2MsckQl
.@KunsanAirBase medical professionals ensure #Airmen are dentally fit for the fight. https://t.co/g0fWjRWuTN https://t.co/ODp7RJMHOF
RT @Southcom: One of 3 @USAirForce C-17s at @Homestead_ARB that will transport #humanitarian aid from Miami to Cúcuta, Colombia. @StateDept
Who runs the world? #STEM girls! Mothers & daughters @319ABW participated in a science, technology, engineering and… https://t.co/Mb5drt7XLj
Pilots huddle after a mission during #RedFlag19-1 @NellisAFB. This is the 388th FW's 2nd Red Flag w/ the F-35A (our… https://t.co/Lvc7LyPatk
The 6 finalists of @SecAFOfficial’s #SparkTank initiative will showcase their ideas to #USAF senior leaders at… https://t.co/5CDsmaW2aD
A setback just may have been the perfect setup to this #Airman's success. #KnowYourMil https://t.co/sCl0o7PTQj
A #USAF #F22Raptor is parked on the flight line on Feb. 11, 2019, @JBLENews. The jets were staged as part of a rout… https://t.co/jLVo8vgGeh
The @35thFighterWing & the Korat Royal Thai Air Base improve security & unite the #multinational force to accomplis… https://t.co/tw86O89624
Find out why these @455thAEW #Airmen must race against time in order to 'detect' and 'protect' in their deployed en… https://t.co/jzSl24cxZ2
.@USAFReserve Chief recently approved changes to the Active Guard Reserve program & plans to grow the program by si… https://t.co/at2UBLEa7q
"Without our @DeptofDefense and the components of it, & @FEMA, these #islands would not have been able to recover i… https://t.co/Zu25GmCMQC