BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – All of the members of Company D, 1st Battalion 125th Infantry Regiment of the Michigan Army National Guard from the Big Rapids Armory have returned home from their year-long deployment in Syria after having been deployed in support of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, whose motto is “One mission, many nations.”

According to the Department of Defense, Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is about targeted operations to defeat ISIS. Their website says about the operation, “Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve continues to work by, with and through regional partners to militarily defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in order to enable whole-of-coalition governmental actions to increase regional stability.” In Syria, the Coalition conducts advising through partnered patrols with the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) and Coalition combined exercises. Specifically, Coalition advisors trained and developed the SDF on counter-IED tactics for force protection and noted improved capability in that area.

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According to Big Rapids News, 3rd Platoon Sergeant and Unit Readiness NCO for the Big Rapids Armory James MacGregor said that Delta Company had left at the end of September 2022. After receiving their orders, they were sent to Texas and then headed to Syria where they spent their time doing work on U.S. military bases and also working with the Syrian government.

MacGregor said, “Over the course of the last year, the members of Company D served in several locations to include Fort Bliss, Texas, from late September to early November for the mobilization preparation, and then to Syria for the deployment which went from November to August 2023. While in Syria, Company D executed a variety of duties revolving around base defense and support of the Syrian Democratic Forces.”

MacGregor couldn’t disclose locations, which he said were pretty remote in comparison to other bases, but he discussed the deployment’s affect on his soldiers. He said, “It was a little different because one day it could be 25 degrees, the next day it could be 100 degrees. It taught the soldiers a sense of self belief.”

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The members of Company D didn’t all come home in one large unit after deployment. Instead, they were sent home in smaller units of five or six people at a time, going from Syria to Kuwait and then to Fort Bliss, Texas before coming back to Michigan. MacGregor said, “The soldiers for the Big Rapids unit began returning in small groups in late August with the final group landing in Lansing, Michigan, earlier this month.” Additional soldiers involved in OIR who came home with the Big Rapids group included soldiers from Lansing, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Saginaw, Wyoming and Michigan cities.

Back stateside again, Company D is reported to return to their normal weekend rotation from month to month. MacGregor said, “All returning members are currently on a well-deserved block leave and will be returning to their monthly National Guard Duties in early 2024.”

In a press release from Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, Commander/Master Chief, U.S. Navy, Timothy L. Garman and Major General, U.S. Army Commanding, JB Vowell, made a statement on Patriot Day, September 11th in which they said all soldiers should take pride in their contributions and sacrifices while remembering the fight is not over. They said, “As we live on the knife edge of freedom, we remain steadfast in our mission as we continue to do our part in the global war on terrorism.”

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In the meantime, while our soldiers are fighting against terrorism in the Middle East, it was reported on Wednesday by the Times of Israel that Syria’s President Bashar Assad is headed to China today for his first visit to Beijing since the start of his country’s 12-year conflict during which China has been one of his main backers. They report, “China has been expanding its reach in the Middle East after mediating a deal in March between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and it continues to support Assad in the Syrian conflict, which has killed half a million people and left large parts of the nation in ruins.”

Syria’s reconstruction could cost tens of billions of dollars and China could reportedly play a major role in that with their “Belt and Road” initiative that has Beijing expanding their influence in developing regions through infrastructure projects.

Also announced this week is the resumption of humanitarian aid to northwest Syria with the Bab al-Hawa crossing opening again after closing in July. About four million Syrians rely on the lifeline through which humanitarian aid is funneled with the crossing is central to the UN’s efforts to deliver aid in the northwest.