BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan
- The 636th Military Intelligence Battalion, Task Force Deguello, officially assumed command and responsibility for intelligence collection in the Afghanistan Combined Joint Operations Area, during a transfer of authority ceremony, Feb. 16.
The unique Texas Army National Guard organization contains more than 300 personnel specializing in human intelligence collection, signals intelligence and counter-intelligence operations. They are the second National Guard intelligence unit to deploy at 100 percent strength.
Most of the unit’s Soldiers began their intelligence careers in combat arms military occupational specialties and crossed trained into the intelligence career field. Hundreds of Soldiers attended additional skills training in source operations, language, advanced intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, special warfare weapons and unmanned ground sensor. This additional training effectively doubled the output of National Guard intelligence Soldiers.
“Like the Texans at the Alamo, Task Force Deguello has come to Afghanistan to do the hardest jobs and offer their blood, sweat and tears to the 101st Airborne and the 82nd Airborne Division,” Army Lt. Col. Michael P. Dietz, 636th Bn. commander said during his speech.
The Texas unit will serve under the two most storied units in the U.S. Army, the 101st Airborne and the 82nd Airborne Division, during their combat duties in Afghanistan.
“Task Force Deguello with its Texas heritage and Texas traditions is a proud Task Force,” Dietz told the audience. “Our Soldiers are trained and ready for combat.”
The 636th is the first MI battalion in the U.S. Army since World War II, created and trained in under one year to immediately serve in combat. Additionally, it is the first Battlefield Surveillance Battalion structured to be used in Afghanistan.
Task Force Deguello’s parent unit, the 71st BfSB is headquartered in Austin, Texas.
A BfSB conducts intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations to enable the division or corps commander to precisely focus joint combat power and simultaneously execute current operations while preparing for future operations.
Dietz explained that Texas had a vision of building a world class intelligence unit in order to deploy to Afghanistan as a BfSB in support of Operation Enduring Freedom IX and X.
“Our journey has taken us from our civilian jobs in Texas, to various military schools in several states, to mobilization training in Washington state and finally here to Afghanistan,” said Army 1st Sgt. Corey M. Amidon, the first sergeant to Task Force Hays, Bravo Company.
“Many of our Soldiers are presently at their forward operating bases, doing what they do best and working hard to contribute to the intelligence collection process in support of our mission,” Amidon continued.
Currently, the 636th is the most geographically dispersed unit organization in the CJOA, serving the rugged eastern and southeastern areas, as well as along the Pakistan border areas.
“The 636th is eager to continue the intelligence gathering mission the 142nd MI battalion, [Task Force Wasatch] has done since May 25, 2008,” said Army Lt. Col. Thomas J. Kleis, the executive officer for TF Deguello. “They served our country in some of the roughest terrain in the world and served it well.
The soldiers of Task Force Deguello will continue that service.”
Task Force Deguello is named for the taunting music the Mexican army played at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, the most famous battle of the Texas Revolution. The song Deguello was played during the 13-day siege of the Alamo to let the defenders of Texas freedom know there would be no mercy, no quarter for those who did not surrender.