It Takes a Village

  • Published
  • By Capt. Andrea Kostiuk and Audra Flanagan
  • 133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs and 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Earlier this year, the Secretary of Defense approved the Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, to provide temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the U.S. for Afghan personnel. The mission known as Operation Allies Welcome is an extension of Operation Allies Refuge, the evacuation from Afghanistan of more than 180,000 U.S. citizens and Afghan allies, many by Air National Guard airlift crews.

Over a dozen service members from the 148th Fighter Wing and four from the 133rd Airlift Wing have deployed to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey and Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico to assist in these efforts as part of the task forces located at each installation.

Minnesota Airmen have contributed to the mission in a number of ways. From initial processing, transportation, and medical care to security and general logistical support, our members have worked tirelessly to ensure that the Afghan personnel in their care have what they need as they work through their transition to the U.S.

The same is being done at other installations across the nation, including Camp Atterbury, Indiana; the Virginia National Guard’s Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center near Blackstone, Virginia; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia; Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; and Fort Bliss, Texas.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Daniel Gabrielli, Director of Staff-Air at Joint Forces Headquarters, who was selected to lead Task Force Holloman in New Mexico, says the team has been unstoppable.

“We can attribute our success to every single member, whether Airman or Soldier,” said Gabrielli. “They are fully committed to ensuring that our Afghan guests have all the support they need as they transition to their new life in the U.S.”

Among those activated is Chief Master Sgt. Dawn Teachworth, who is currently serving as the Village 1 Senior Enlisted Leader at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, where she’s responsible for ensuring 200 Airmen supporting Operation Allies Welcome, have the tools they need to be successful. Teachworth is also a member of the Female Engagement Team, where she participates in weekly meetings designed to teach Afghan females about American women’s culture.

When asked what her favorite part of this mission, Teachworth said, “The children - each day I watch the children play in the streets of our village, and I think about all the exciting things that are ahead of them. Will one of them be wearing the same uniform I wear someday? Or will one of them cure cancer? There are so many more options than if they had stayed in their own country.”

The Minnesota National Guard provides mission-ready Airmen and Soldiers to support global operations, continuing to safeguard the homeland and serve our communities.