Illinois National Guard

5 Feb 2013
Public Affairs Office
Freedom Salute Ceremony Recognizes Specialized Springfield Unit For Deployment

 Feb. 10 ceremony honors Soldiers and families for sacrifice


SPRINGFIELD– Approximately 20 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers with the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A9 will be recognized Feb. 10 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. at Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield.

The BEST Soldiers mobilized in January 2011 and returned home Nov. 1.   The unique mission allowed Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers to train and deploy side-by-side with their Polish counterparts.  The Soldiers are from various parts of Illinois and were selected for the mission based on their training and skills.

  The team was part of Task Force White Eagle XI, which included more than 3,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from the U.S., Poland and Ukraine. The task force kept the roads between Kabul and Kandahar safe and reduced the insurgent influence in the area. 

Task Force White Eagle had the highest rate of found and cleared roadside bombs in the region, greatly reducing the number of innocent civilians, Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition Forces who were injured or killed.  The task force also worked in regions of the country that were previously neglected and helped build a new security presence. 

The servicemembers worked with the International Security Assistance Force to coordinate and execute multiple raids with Afghanistan commanders that targeted the Taliban in Ghazni Province.  The raids captured and removed a majority of the Taliban commanders and sub-commanders in the region.  The task force also found and removed more than 30,000 kilograms of explosive materials from the area and the team found more than $21.3 million of lost and unaccounted for property.  

News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony and should notify the Public Affairs Office by 3 p.m., Feb. 8 to be granted access onto Camp Lincoln.  For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

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