Aug. 17 ceremony recognizes Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A10

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/13/2013)(readMedia)-- Approximately 20 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers will be recognized Aug. 17 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ceremony for the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A10 will be at 10 a.m. Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield.

The BEST A10 Soldiers were mobilized in August 2012 and returned May 16.

The team was part of Task Force White Eagle XII, which included more than 2,500 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from the U.S. and Poland. The task force was assigned two missions in preparation for the drawdown of coalition forces in 2014. The primary mission was to develop the Afghan Soldiers and Afghan law enforcement personnel to provide their citizens with civil and national security. Secondly, the combined U.S./Polish Task Force was tasked with transporting 10 years of war material out of their assigned area of responsibility as a key component of the eventual drawdown.

Task Force White Eagle/BEST A10 completed more than 1,600 tactical operations that ranged from clearing the roads of improvised explosive devices (IED) and humanitarian aid to neutralizing high-profile insurgent leadership. These operations resulted in finding and clearing 34 IEDs and 21 former Soviet high-explosive munitions. The Soldiers of the task force uncovered 35 insurgent weapons cache's that housed over a ton of various caliber weapon ammunition, 30 semi/automatic weapons and more than 45,000 pounds of homemade explosives. Task Force White Eagle was engaged in more than 300 firefights and five IED strikes. The combined efforts of the Polish Soldiers and Illinois Guardsmen yielded the capture of more than 80 insurgents, which included more than one dozen high-profile insurgent leaders.

The Freedom Salute Campaign program is a small way to show these patriotic citizen-Soldiers, their families and employers how much their sacrifice is appreciated. On behalf of the National Guard Bureau, the Illinois Army National Guard will present each eligible Soldier with an encased American flag, as well as a sequentially-numbered commemorative coin, certificate of appreciation and lapel pin. Families will also receive items recognizing their support and sacrifice.

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. It is designed to publicly acknowledge Army National Guard Soldiers and those who supported them while deployed.

News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony and should notify the Public Affairs Office by 3 p.m., Aug. 16 to be granted access onto Camp Lincoln. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

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