The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan called on Thursday for a few thousand more troops in the country.
South Carolina has had a big presence in Afghanistan during nearly 16 years of war there. Forty-eight military members with ties to South Carolina died or were killed there.
Since 2001, the S.C. Army National Guard has mobilized more than 80 units for deployment to Afghanistan – more than 6,000 soldiers. The largest year was 2007, with more than 1,800 soldiers from the 218th Brigade Combat Team based at Camp Phoenix in Kabul.
It was the largest deployment of S.C. National Guard soldiers since World War II.
Eleven Guard members have been killed there, including three members of the 133rd Military Police Company on June 20, 2012. The soldiers killed in the suicide attack were 1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30, of Lexington; Spc. John David Meador II, 36, of Columbia; and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley.
It was the Guard’s deadliest day since the Vietnam War.
The 20th Fighter Wing, based at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, has been deployed numerous times to Afghanistan through the years. One squadron is there now providing close air support for ground troops.
Capt. James M. Steel of the 77th Fighter Squadron was killed in 2013 when his F-16 crash when returning from a close air support mission.
U.S. Army Central, also known as Third Army, provides all the logistics – be it weapons, food or medical supplies – for ground troops fighting in both Southwest Asia and the Middle East. That includes the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
It is headquartered at Shaw, with a forward operating base at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
U.S. Air Force Central, which is responsible for logistics for Air Force units in the region, is also based at Shaw.
The S.C. Air National Guard has mobilized more than 500 airmen to Afghanistan, the most in 2012 when the 169th Fighter Wing with more than 400 airmen was based in Kandahar.