JBLM Special Forces fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, talk to KIRO 7 on 9/11 anniversary

For the last six months the 3rd Batallion, 1st Special Forces Group from Joint Base Lewis McChord has been hunting down terrorists in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Commander LTC Josh Thiel spoke to KIRO 7 Anchor John Knicely from Afghanistan via Skype.

“What stands out to me 17 years after September 11th is that we're all stronger together,” Thiel said.  “And if you're not proactively integrating local economies, integrating all partners across the earth and global security, that tyranny can pop up and radicalization can pop up in every corner.”

Thiel said that global fight includes everything from tips from villagers on where terrorists are camped out to support from at home in Western Washington to prepare them for the mission.

“Great support from the Washington Air National Guard,” Thiel said.  “They really bucketed a bunch of their resources so we could simulate the high, up-tempo of helicopter operations.”

And he says the care packages from home mean a great deal to them.

“The local community sent boxes throughout the rotation,” he said.  “Fire departments, coffee companies, local groups.”

The fight on the ground has been focused on rooting out ISIS cells in remote areas.  His public affairs officer shared video with KIRO 7 showing how villagers let them use their donkeys to get key equipment into those areas.

“We actually have a pack animal manual that we train on how to rig up weapons supplies,” Thiel said.  “So you can get them into the mountains.”

About 15,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground in Afghanistan, with 500 from this JBLM Special Forces group.

“Our troops are pretty excited about coming home,” Thiel said.

After six months of fighting terrorist they will come home in two weeks, excited to reunite with family.

“See how school's going with the 5-year-old boy since he's started school now,” Thiel said.  “The 3-year-old boy thinks I'm bringing him home a monster truck, because he sees pictures of our trucks. And my daughter, since we're the 3rd Battalion dragons, thinks I'm bringing back a dragon for her.”

Those are understandable expectations for 3-year-olds who will one day realize their dad is a hero for helping lead the fight against terrorism.

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