KABUL, Afghanistan - Less than halfway through their deployment, the Soldiers of the Alabama National Guard's 1st Battalion, 167th Infantry Regiment have completed more than 5,000 missions and covered thousands of miles providing transportation and security to key leaders, military personnel and civilians throughout Afghanistan.
Task Force Centurion Prime, as the battalion is known for the deployment, works as part of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan; an international coalition tasked with assisting the government of Afghanistan in developing accountable, Afghan-led security forces.
The Task Force Centurion Prime commander, Lt. Col. J.R. Bass, said the Soldiers of the 167th have become an integral part and make up the largest force under direct command of NTM-A.
"Our Soldiers never slowed down after arriving in August and the astounding number of completed missions reflects the dedication of everyone in the 'Fourth Alabama,'" Bass said.
"To paint the full picture, we have safely transported 18,000 passengers across 65,000 of the most challenging miles imaginable during these first 5,000 missions. We have a committed team of infantrymen, equipment operators and maintenance personnel, communications technicians, as well as operations, intelligence, logistics, and administrative specialists who each play a key role in every mission."
Bass said the Alabama Soldiers are key to NTM-A's operations.
"This battalion is responsible for the security of key military and civilian personnel who are training and mentoring the Afghanistan National Security Forces," he said. "This mission is essential in setting the conditions for accountable, Afghan-led security in the future."
Their work is not going unnoticed, Bass said. "What must be noted is that almost every day a senior leader from any one of the 38 coalition nations we protect contacts me to praise the exceptional level of professionalism our Soldiers display," he said.
The Soldiers are divided into seven different companies with missions varying from base operations to "outside the wire" activities.
The tally of missions at mid-December stood at: A Company, from Valley, has completed approximately 800 missions; B Company, from Pelham, has completed approximately 1,500 missions; C Company, from Cullman, has completed approximately 100 missions; D Company, from Sylacauga, has completed approximately 200 missions, E Company, from Talladega, has completed approximately 400 missions; F Company, from Oxford, has completed approximately 1,500 missions; and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, from Talladega, has completed approximately 600 missions.
The Task Force Centurion Prime command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. John Black, said so far the colder weather and early snowfall have yet to deter the Soldiers from their active operation tempo.
"I kept hearing that the pace would slow down as we got into the winter," Black said. "To me the pace still seems steady and consistent but the weather is still fair. All I can really say is that as long as missions are requested and we believe they can be safely accomplished we will continue to drive forward."
The 1st Battalion, 167th Infantry, traces its roots to before the Civil War when it was part of the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment. It has played a role in nearly every major war and campaign since, including a legendary stint in France during World War I. This is the first time the entire battalion has deployed as a whole in the current war.