An Army Special Operations task force just completed one of the most successful combat rotations to Afghanistan.
Special Operations Task Force 102 (SOTF-102) received over 50 military decorations for their work against the Taliban, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan (ISIS-K), Haqqani network, and Al-Qaida.
SOTF-102 was comprised of Green Berets from the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and 19th SFG (A), Soldiers from the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, and Explosive Ordnance Technicians from the 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group.
“I am incredibly humbled to be here in the company of these Green Beret heroes, who embody all the values and attributes we hold dear in the ARSOF community,” said Army Lieutenant General Francis Beaudette, the commanding general of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).
In total, Lt. Gen. Beaudette presented an astonishing five Silver Star Medals (the nation’s third-highest award for valor in combat), nine Bronze Star Medals with Valor Device (the nation’s fourth-highest award for valor in combat), 20 Army Commendation Medals with Valor Device, and 36 Purple Heart Medals.
“This ceremony brings meaningful closure to such an incredible group of warriors. This is a warrior battalion, within a warrior formation and we get a sense of their love of country, unit and their teammates,” added Gen. Beaudette.
Unfortunately, for four members of the task force, the awards were posthumous. Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay (10th SFG) and Sgt. Joseph Collette (242nd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group) were killed in March and Master Sgt. Michael Riley and Sgt. 1st Class Elliott Robbins were killed in June (Sgt. Robbins was killed in a non-combat incident – both of them were assigned to 10th SFG).
“We come together as a Family and unit to honor the heroism and sacrifice of our Soldiers and their Families,” said, Lieutenant Colonel Justin Hufnagel, the commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 10th SFG (A). “For 170 days of a blistering series of operations, we focused on disrupting the enemy in their strongholds. They earned these awards supporting one another, side by side, in battle.”
SOTF 102 was deployed for close to six months. SOF units tend to deploy for shorter periods to combat zones because of the increased intensity of their rotations. 75th Ranger Regiment companies – though now it’s more likely to be platoons – usually do three months in theatre. And the same applies to Delta Force squadrons and troops. Special Forces Operational Detachment Alphas (SFODAs), tend to have longer deployments because of their Foreign Internal Defence (FID) – that is, training, advising, and operating with local troops – expertise.