“The Devils and the Bastards. I think we’ll get along just fine.”


There’s a lengthy article over at Task & Purpose describing how “Task Force Bastard” from the 1st Combined Arms Battalion of the 194th Armor Regiment, a National Guard unit, helped secure Kabul airport, prepare it for sustained evacuation operations, and protected those operations last month.  Here are just a few paragraphs to whet your appetite.

When we received the order sending us to Kabul, years of training and a heightened readiness kicked into full action. Within six hours over 400 task force Soldiers were ready to load onto flights. We knew that when we arrived we would be tasked with securing vital sectors of Hamid Karzai International Airport and assisting with the evacuation of U.S. citizens, families, and allies under constant threat from both the Taliban and ISIS-K.

We met Lt. Col. Helgestad’s intent. No one had to wait on us.

The Minnesota National Guard did this alongside some of the most storied active-duty units in the military: the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Some in the 82nd couldn’t believe it. One captain I met from their brigade intelligence section told me he was under the impression that a senator had pulled some strings and got us deployed from Minnesota. When I told him about our task force and that we were already in the Middle East, postured for such a crisis event, he was speechless. Initially, there was an air of distrust, but we proved ourselves worthy partners, dispelling the myth about the perceived capability gap between the active duty and guard/reserve components. 

. . .

“You single-handedly changed my opinion of the National Guard,” commented the command sergeant major of the 1/82 Airborne Brigade. The only ones not surprised by our abilities were, well…us.

Leaving Ali al Salem airbase, we found ourselves packed like sardines aboard Air Force C-17 Globemaster planes. All of us were drenched with sweat from the heat and humidity. We chugged water, uncomfortably shifting or dozing off on the hard metal floors, many of us thinking about our families back home who had no idea what we were about to do. About 45 minutes from final descent into HKIA the infrared lights came on inside the hold. Magazines went into weapons. We clipped our night vision goggles onto our helmets, and none of us knew what to expect when the ramp went down.

A short time later we cleared and occupied several open hangars on aprons of north HKIA that we would call home. These hangars, located in Pad 8, had previously housed aircraft and maintenance from the Department of State that had been abandoned days earlier as U.S. Embassy personnel scrambled to depart. Exhausted, we laid on the concrete and slept for a couple hours to the sound of gunfire and aircraft.

We’d made it to Kabul because we were ready. Meanwhile, elements of the 82nd and 10th Mountain wouldn’t. They were still stuck in Kuwait.

The following morning we met with Col. Theodore Kleisner, the brigade commander for 1/82 Airborne, Call Sign: Devil 6. He gave us the lowdown on the current tenuous situation and the importance and gravity of the moment. He looked at Lt. Col. Helgestad and asked us who we were. “Task Force Bastard, sir.” We briefly explained the history of our unit and our name. A smile came across Col. Kleisner’s face as he said, “The Devils and the Bastards. I think we’ll get along just fine.”

There’s much more at the link.  Very interesting reading from a “boots on the ground” and “I was there” perspective.

It’s good to know that, despite the feckless mismanagement of the Afghanistan debacle by top military commanders and political leaders, our troops on the ground did the best they could under almost impossible conditions, and saved many thousands of people.  The failures in so many other areas can’t be laid at their feet.



  1. Huh. The 82nd who turned away AMERICAN CITIZENS have tarnished the unit's reputation badly, imo. I dont care if they stripped the OIC of COMMAND, THEY FOLLOWED THOSE ORDERS. It's disgraceful…

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