As members of the 45th Infantry stand watch in Afghanistan Wednesday night, Oklahomans wonder how they are coping with the recent loss of 14 soldiers knowing each day they could be next.
In a virtual conversation, Commanders stationed in Afghanistan discuss some very real topics. Col. Joel Ward, Commander for the 45th Infantry Brigage Combat Team gives a rare interview from the front lines.
"It is a war and our soldier are in the fight every day and they struggle with an enemy that is adaptable and changes his tactics to match our tactics," said Col. Ward.
As one of two leaders of soldiers from Oklahoma, Major General Daniel Allyn explains how the troops are dealing with the loss of 14 soldiers in the last four months.
"It is the most gut wrenching part of our job," said Major General Allyn. "Every soldier we lose rips our guts out every single time."
The commanders both agree each soldier who dies in the line of duty leaves the troops more determined to finish their mission. They said they are determined to serve in their honor.
The commanders say conditions like the terrain and weather in Afghanistan make the fight more difficult. Both explain the most recent deployment came during a deadly time of year. They say summer is fighting season.
The leaders expect the deadly fighting to subside as winter approaches. Still, the 45th IBCT's mission remains. The leaders say Oklahoma soldiers are shadowing the Afghan Army and Police.
"They put on their body armor and they go out on a road where there us an IED and they know they are going to make contact and they still do it every day," said one of the soldiers.
The commanders are confident their next discussion will be face to face. They believe they are close to a point where their presence will not be required there.