(March 25, 2014) A Marine lieutenant colonel serving in Afghanistan may have unknowingly entered the debate on whether AH-64 Apache helicopters should be taken from the Army National Guard.
Lt. Col. S.G. Fosdal wrote a letter to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho praising the “brave men” of Company B, 1st Battalion, 183rd Aviation, out of Boise, Idaho. He said the Apache crews performed heroically during their deployment to the war zone.
Referring to one incident, he wrote, “Despite heavy ground fire and a chaotic battlefield they provided precise and timely fires against the enemy, killing many and saving the lives of Afghans and US forces alike.”
Writing of another similar episode, he said, “Lesser men would have declared the area too dangerous and flown away leaving us to fend for ourselves, but not Company B. They stuck with the troops in the fight and as a direct result of their heroic efforts a Marine is now at home with his family, healing and thankful to be alive.”
He wrote that Afghan troops were less apprehensive about going on missions knowing that the Idaho Apaches were watching out for them, adding that “the US Army and Special Forces were also imbued with confidence knowing that your unit had their back.”
The Army wants to remove all Apaches from the Army Guard, replacing them with UH-60 Black Hawks. NGAUS and the Army Guard argue that doing so would destroy the Army Guard’s combat aviation mission. Fosdal’s letter, which highlights actions of Guard Apache crews, supports that argument.
“As a state rich in natural resources I thank you and the people of Idaho for sending your most precious resources, its citizens, to serve here in Afghanistan,” he wrote. “I hope that you are as proud of them as I am for having served alongside them.”