Inside the Gates: Alaska National Guard wraps up 18-year partnership with Mongolia in Afghanistan

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 2:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - July 2021 marked the end of a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan for members of the Alaska Army National Guard. It’s signaled the end of an 18-year partnership with the Mongolian Armed Forces in that region of the world.

The Alaska National Guard soldiers helped oversee the transfer of the New Kabul Compound to the Afghan Army. The deployment marked the last rotation of the Alaska guard liaisons working with the Mongolian Expeditionary Task Force in Afghanistan, according to a July 23 press release from the Alaska National Guard.

“I’m very grateful for the experience,” said Capt. Jessica Miller, a nurse with the Alaska Army National Guard Medical Detachment. “It was my first deployment. I learned a lot, and I’m very grateful.”

The deployment allowed Miller to expand her skills.

“I have a lot of experience in logistics now as a nurse with supply and base defense operations as well,” she said.

She also served as one of the liaisons that accompanied the Mongolian Expeditionary Task Force.

The partnership between Alaska and Mongolia started in early 2003 in Iraq. It continued when military operations moved to Afghanistan six years later in 2009.

“They are extremely hard workers, they’re extremely smart,” said Miller as she described her Mongolian counterparts. “They learned quickly, and they’re good people.”

“They’re a very resilient, very disciplined and very professional force,” said Sgt. 1st Class Juan Restrepo, who also served during the final deployment.

He’s a logistician in the guard’s Joint Force Headquarters. Restrepo believes the experience with the Mongolian Armed Forces will make him a better soldier.

“The learning experience that we brought back from Afghanistan will help us to mentor and guide the soldiers for future missions and training experiences,” Restrepo said.

Even though operations have ended for the U.S. and Mongolia in Afghanistan, the Alaska Army National Guard says training missions with Mongolia will continue.

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