by Capt. Michael Hart & Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Harris, 206th Engineer Battalion
Al Asad Air Base, Iraq - -In the early hours of January 8, 2020, Soldiers of the Kentucky Army National Guard's 206th Engineer Battalion stationed at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, endured a ballistic missile attack from Iran.
To see more photos from the deployment, please click HERE.
Iranian news agencies said ballistic missiles were fired at
Al Asad Air Base and at the Air Base at Erbil in retaliation for the death of
Major General Qasem Soleimani.
According to Iranian news agencies, the Iranians called the
missile strike Operation Martyyr Soleimani. In all, about 14 missiles hit Al
Asad Air Base.
The 206th Engineer Battalion of Owensboro,
Kentucky was supporting Task Force Frontier. They’d been operating out of the
base for just four months when the strike occurred.
The event followed a series of escalatory actions that began
the prior summer when Iran shot down two U.S. drones, just prior to the arrival
of the 206th Engineers.
The 206th found themselves in an increasingly hostile
situation as the forward operating bases they were assigned to gradually became
more and more the target of indirect fire attacks from local militia groups supported
The attacks directly affected engineer operations as force
protection became progressively more important. In addition, some projects were
significantly impacted due to slower logistics deliveries and a heightened
Most Task Force Frontier locations were prepared to
withstand the more common Katyusha rocket munition because of concrete barriers
and walls already positioned throughout the base. Ballistic missiles however, are
a more lethal threat.
"We created a new battle drill that night,” said Battalion
Commander Lt. Col. Michael Lawson. "Preservation of life was the highest
When Soldiers emerged from their bunkers after the attack,
which lasted several hours, they immediately went to work on a multitude of
projects. Some helped clean-up debris on the airfield, while others began to
repair facilities on the base.
"We were already busy, but we got even busier after the
attack," said 1st Sgt. Chadwick Larkin. "I thought we really
contributed to rebuilding the base after the attack."
The battalion responded to the attack and led the engineer
effort for the base by building additional force protection structures and
setting the conditions for follow-on missions.
The total cost associated with base damage, clean-up, and
repair was 10.6 million dollars. Of that total, troop labor from the 206th
saved the government 2.4 million dollars.
Lawson concluded, “Task Force Frontier Soldiers were
committed to the mission and showed a tremendous amount of resiliency. I am
extremely proud of their efforts during that challenging time."