Morale is high and everybody in Gainesville-based Charlie Company “is doing a good job” in Afghanistan, said the group’s commander, Capt. Jeff Moran, on Sunday at the National Guard Armory on Alta Vista Road.
“I’m very proud of each and every one of the soldiers,” said Moran, speaking to about 30 family and loved ones. “I appreciate all of your support. So far, so good.”
The Army National Guard unit, which has suffered no casualties, has been deployed in Afghanistan since March, along with other members of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade.
Moran, who is in the middle of a two-week leave, talked about the group’s mission, including its whereabouts, in an hour-long presentation that included photos and maps of the region.
The 130-member outfit, split into three platoons, has been separated according to particular jobs but is expected to reunite by mid-December at Combat Outpost Herrera in the Paktya Province of eastern Afghanistan.
Generally, the company has two primary missions: serving as mentors to Afghan military and police and working as the security force for Forward Operating Base Lightning in eastern Afghanistan.
At Herrera, “we’re doing combined action, which is also mentoring but is more of a partnership where each person in the company is aligned with someone — their Afghan counterpart,” Moran said.
“Our goal is to set the next unit up for success,” he told the group. “With this whole combined action, we’re going to work it and start getting it established. But it’s really to pre-position our forces for when the next unit comes in and fighting season starts up again.”
Moran reassured families about the soldiers’ working conditions.
“Listen, we’ve got the best equipment there is — the best you can get,” he said. “No other army has got the equipment, spends the time and money on their equipment like the American Army.”
Herrera features a tactical operation center, the first such facility in the theater.
“We have Afghan national police, border patrol and security group sitting in the same operations center as their U.S. counterparts,” Moran said.
The groups used to work separately, but now, “we pretty much share all the information we have,” he said.
At this point, Charlie Company plans to return to Gainesville by March 26, Moran said.
The unit may arrive at Fort Stewart in Savannah by March 19, with soldiers possibly able to spend some time then with families. “I’m going to fight for maximum time with families,” he said.
“There were rumors that we were getting extended,” Moran said. “There are no plans of 1st Battalion being extended. We’re on the same timeline we’ve always been.”
In the meantime, “we’ve got a lot to do over the next four months,” he said.
As for now, though, Moran is planning to enjoy one more week, including Thanksgiving, with his family, including his wife, Lorie, who attended Sunday’s presentation with him. The family lives in Forsyth County.
“I really lucked out on that one,” he said.
“As the commander, I try to avoid having any holidays. It just fell that way because my first sergeant. His wife is expecting, so I had to change my leave and this was the first available date I could change to.”
Moran’s presentation was part of Charlie Company’s monthly Family Readiness Group meetings.
“We talk about a variety of subjects — what the guys are doing over in Afghanistan and ways we are supporting them and the families,” said the group’s chairwoman, Dayle Koester.