Guardsmen in Afghanistan to
Commemorate Terror Attack Anniversary
Afghanistan — Men and women of the New York Army National
Guard who served at Ground Zero are commemorating the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in Afghanistan this year. A ceremony is planned
tomorrow at this base in the Afghan capital of Kabul, and it will be
timed to coincide with the first plane strike at the World
Center at 8:46 a.m. EDT.
More than 1,700 members of New York’s 27th
Infantry Brigade Combat Team are serving here with Combined
Joint Task Force Phoenix,
part of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Its
mission is to mentor and train the Afghan National Army and police,
and provide assistance to the government of Afghanistan and its
The task force is led by Army Col. Brian K. Balfe, who is also
commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which took
over command and control responsibility April 26.
The task force is composed of nearly 9,500 servicemen and women
from all U.S. branches, coalition partners and civilian professionals
serving at nearly 260 forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan.
“The New York National Guard is the only part of America’s
military team that has literally gone from Ground Zero to the
Sunni Triangle [in Iraq] and is now here amid the mountains of
Afghanistan,” Balfe said. “Soldiers from this brigade
were among the very first to respond to the attacks and served
at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and for weeks later.
“At least a third of the team that came from New York
has also already served in Iraq,” he continued. “For
those of us who were there, [who] served at Ground Zero, 9/11
is deeply personal.”
When the World Trade Center collapsed, hundreds of New York
National Guard personnel were on the ground. By evening, 1,500
were there and thousands more were poised at more than 63 armories
and five air bases around the state.
For the first 40 hours, Guard personnel were
on the debris pile, conducting search-and-rescue missions alongside
rescue, police and other emergency personnel. The New York Guard’s
Civil Support Team for Weapons of Mass Destruction was the first
unit of its kind to respond to a terrorist attack and was quickly
On the second day, the civilian incident commander — the New
York City fire chief — directed the Guard to establish a security
perimeter and then sweep the pile to clear all personnel to better
organize the search-and-recovery effort.
In the weeks stretching into months that followed, New York
National Guard personnel performed a myriad of homeland defense
missions in state active duty, federal duty under state control,
or Title 10 active duty.
At the mission’s peak, when recovery and
security operations were running concurrently, more than 5,000
New York troops were
on duty in New York City; at 19 commercial airports; at bridges,
tunnels and train stations; at nuclear power plants; and at military
Not since World War II had the New York National Guard been
deployed in such numbers for such extended time participating
in both state homeland defense missions and federal military