Vance SFS commander returns from Afghanistan deployment

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tony Wickman
  • Public Affairs
The 71st Security Forces Squadron commander returned recently from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Maj. Herb Meadows forward deployed to Bagram Air Base as the commander of the 455th Expeditionary SFS. His 100-person unit was responsible for the security of $3.5 billion in warfighting assets, providing fly-away security teams for C-130s going to airfields within the area of responsibility and supplying tactical security escort teams for Air Force explosive ordnance disposal units.

It was a duty Major Meadows found to be both challenging and rewarding.

"The occasional rocket attacks or perimeter breech attempts were always exciting, and I had to coordinate joint base security operations with the Army," the major said. "But highlights of the deployment included providing tactical security escort teams for EOD units and coordinating joint base security zone missions with the exceptional Air Force Office of Special Investigation agents providing a secure operating environment from which to launch, recover and sustain airpower."

The major said attending the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy during his deployment was a career milestone.

Also during the deployment, Major Meadows interacted with host-nation people on a regular basis and was surprised by the willingness of the Afghani military to learn from the Airmen at Bagram.

"I had the opportunity to host local leadership elements of the Afghan National Army who were standing up future airfield security operations of their own," the major said. "We quickly realized how far they had to go in terms of evolving their dedicated security teams and programs, but they were eager to learn and were fascinated by the overall discipline and motivation displayed by our security forces Airmen."

The deployment also brought focus to how important coalition operations in Afghanistan are to the future of that nation.

"I believe most Americans generally understand how critical a robust coalition presence is to the security, stabilization and future progression of the people of Afghanistan, but it is my hope that this message isn't lost over time and becomes what the media has coined 'the forgotten war,'" he said. "The people of Afghanistan want the same things that we thrive for in our country - a safe environment for our families to live in and the fundamental opportunities in life to achieve happiness and prosperity. There are brave men and women in Afghanistan risking their lives and forfeiting their own safety and comfort everyday to ensure the country never falls into the hands of the Taliban again."

Although Major Meadows deployed previously to Saudi Arabia, this deployment was vastly different in scope and mission and was all he could hope for from the deployment.

"Watching Airmen in a joint combat environment do everything from fly close air support missions to securing an airfield to stabilizing a 7-year old Afghan child in Craig Hospital after stepping on a land mine clearly impacted the future of a developing nation one mission at a time," Major Meadows said. "It is one of the greatest experiences a 'blue-suiter' could ask for."

Now that he is home, the major said he enjoys spending time with his wife and dogs.

"And getting some decent sleep again," he said.