My second and third SOTG rotations saw a dramatic increase in our task group’s access to air assets. We heavily utilized U.S. aircraft, based permanently in Tarin Kot, which included the 101st Aviation Regiment’s Task Force Eagle Attack as well as 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment’s Task Force Wolfpack. These assets allowed for us to plan for and execute operations that previous rotations did not.

These joint operations became prevalent between our two nations and dominated the way in which our task group operated. Extended vehicle patrols started to give way to time-sensitive targeting and deliberate actions utilizing air assets. The reach of our FE also began to extend beyond the Uruzgan border into neighboring Zabol, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces.

The SOTG was pushing farther into Taliban and insurgent sanctuaries where, in some cases, the last coalition forces to enter had done so during the initial invasion. These areas were heavily armed and well organized, which meant for busy days and sleepless nights.

One operation that we conducted in 2009 had our entire task group inserted about 10km (6.2 miles) outside of the Kajaki Sofla Bazaar. We then approached the bazaar by foot in order to maintain the element of surprise. The intelligence picture of Kajaki Sofla looked like one big void of inactivity; there were no colorful dots indicating IED strikes, IEDs found, IEDs rendered safe, ineffective IED attacks, contact reports, nothing.