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NEWS | Oct. 23, 2020

Deployed Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers Receive Combat Service Patch

In a time-honored tradition, Soldiers from the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A25, received combat patches for their overseas deployment during recent ceremonies in the U.S. Army Central Command area of responsibility.

“The awarding of the shoulder sleeve insignia for wartime service, better known as the combat patch, is a tradition that first began during the Revolutionary War under General George Washington,” Lt. Col. Jason Osberg, of Champaign, Illinois, Commander of BEST A25, told the Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers taking part in the ceremony. “It is an honor to receive a combat patch and your work here has earned you that honor.”

BEST A25 received the 10th Mountain Division patch, which is the unit's higher headquarters in theater.

According to guidelines published by the U.S. Army, the Army combat patch, officially known as the ‘shoulder sleeve insignia-former wartime service,’ recognizes Soldiers' participation in combat operations.

To be eligible for the combat patch, Soldiers must be serving in a theater or an area of operation designated as a hostile environment or serving during a war period as declared by Congress.

“The rituals of significant events mark those important life moments and etch them into our collective memories,” said Osberg.

After mobilizing in early May, the team transitioned to Fort Bliss, Texas where they received final training prior to deploying overseas. This unit’s unique mission allows them to deploy side-by-side with their Polish counterparts. The Soldiers are from various towns in Illinois. They were selected for the mission based on their training and skills.

As part of the deployment supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the team is assisting the Polish Military Contingent in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.  In partnership with allied and coalition forces, BEST A25 is training, advising and assisting the institutions within the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior.

The Illinois National Guard has had a State Partnership Program with the Polish military since in 1993. The State Partnership Program between the Illinois National Guard and Poland has been the most successful State Partnership in the nation, helping Poland emerge from the Warsaw Pact to become a member of NATO and one of the United States’ staunchest allies. In addition, Illinois Army National Guard troops have co-deployed with Poland on every Polish rotation to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.