KABUL, Afghanistan - Oklahoma Army National Guard members of 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, held a transfer of authority ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 31, 2017, alongside members of 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, representing the transfer of mission from one organization to another.
Nearly 500 members of the 180th are currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of the NATO-led train, advise and assist mission, Operation Resolute Support. In this case, the 180th replaces the 3-73rd for the Kabul Security Forces mission; a mission focused primarily on adviser force protection.
'I want to welcome the 1st of the 180th Cavalry Regiment to KSF,' said British Army Brigadier Nick Pond, commander of Kabul Security Forces in Afghanistan. 'I look forward to serving with you, albeit briefly.' The 180th will receive a new KSF commander early next year.
While deployed, the 180th will work alongside other coalition forces, including the British Army, Royal Danish Army and Mongolian Armed Forces, all of which play a key role in the Resolute Support Mission, from base defense operations, site force protection, adviser force protection, to incident response.
For the past few weeks, both units have focused on what's known as a 'relief in place', where members of the 180th worked alongside 3-73rd KSF Veterans during missions and daily tasks in order to best prepare for future operations.
'I could not be more appreciative of the Paratroopers of the 3-73rd for the exceptional level of relief in place they provided our Troopers,' said Lt. Col. Michael Urrutia, commander of the 180th. 'That was the last phase in order for our Troopers to be 100 percent mission ready.'
A majority of the 180th's force are first-time deployers, though this type of non-combat role is new for most of the Squadron, especially in a joint-national setting. This is the first time in nearly six years Oklahoma's 45th IBCT has deployed a unit to Afghanistan, where the mission then was focused on combat operations. As a result, the 180th had to take an in-depth look at the KSF mission and determine what training was necessary in order to best prepare.
'I was extremely intentional with the training guidance to focus on the mission,' Urrutia said. 'The [180th squadron] staff put together an extremely challenging plan to execute. The commanders, leaders and Troopers at all levels executed the training with exceptional results, and I could not be more confident in our Squadron to take on this mission.'
As members of the 180th officially inherit the KSF mission until Fall this year, they do so with pride in adding to the rich history of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
'I know that the Thunderbirds are ready and well-positioned to take on this mission,' Pond said, as he spoke to the 180th during the ceremony. 'I have every faith in your ability as I hand over to my successor in the coming year.'