Liberty Mission Coming to End in Afghanistan

The 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, has begun winding down for its return to the United States after four years of ISR missions in southern Afghanistan. The squadron has flown more than 25,000 air tasking order sorties in the MC-12W Liberty, racking up 115,000 combat flight hours, according to a Kandahar release. The Liberty has helped save lives and support the coalition objective, said 361st ERS commander Lt. Col. James Mansard. “A lot of sacrifice and commitment has gone into this [mission],” he said. The squadron “eliminated 450 insurgents, … provided overwatch for more than 50,000 friendly forces, and scanned [more than 8,000 miles] of roads supporting ground forces outside the wire,” states the release. “We helped eliminate threats and made life safer for ground force troops,” said MSgt. Shawn Cochran, operations superintendent for the 361st. The Air Force stood up the squadron in May 2010. According to the release, NATO forces will remain at Kandahar to continue the mission.