Fort Hood's 504th Military Intelligence Brigade is busy in Afghanistan striking Taliban targets during a year-long deployment.
The Task Force Ready Commander Colonel Laura Knapp is back on post for a short time. While she said the deployment has its challenges, they are gearing up for the spring and summer fighting season. She explained warmer weather means a high tempo of fighting from insurgents and the Taliban terror organization.
"There is no time off for intelligence," Knapp said.
The 504th soldiers are doing surveillance to further destroy the Taliban narcotics industry of opium and heroin, a major source of financing for the Taliban, according to the Commander. The intelligence collectors are using aircraft to identify drug production sites and then the Air Force uses precision strikes to get rid of them.
"Task Force Ready has assets that are identifying the production facilities to enable kinetic strikes," she said. "Over the past year, taken about $80 million of opium off the battle space."
Knapp said the soldiers recently helped to bring down the number two Taliban drug kingpin.
"The more pressure we can put on those narcotics networks, the more we are trying to provide leverage with the Afghan government to get the Taliban to come to the table to reconcile because that's the ultimate instate, to reconcile the belligerence and have a stable and secure environment," the Commander said.
The ultimate goal is peaceful elections in Afghanistan later this year.
The troops not only provide intelligence in the air with the manned Saturn and Guardrail planes and unmanned aircraft like the Grey Eagle drones but also with human intelligence assets on the ground.
There are intelligence soldiers supporting missions on Fort Hood and Fort Gordon in the U.S., and also supporting missions in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Kuwait as well.
Colonel Laura Knapp said the January attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul is terrible.
She said she was disappointed because, up until that week, they were having successful missions. Knapp said she spoke with another intelligence leader about changing their focus in the wake of the violent string of attacks last month.