As many as 1,100 members of the Minnesota National Guard were in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber attacked Kabul's airport, the scene of a large-scale U.S. evacuation effort in recent days.
But more than 24 hours after the explosion, questions remain unanswered about the Minnesota National Guard's exact involvement, and whether any guard members were among those inured or killed in the attack.
The Department of Defense on Aug. 26 acknowledged a "complex" attack at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport, later explained to be a suicide bomber at the airport's Abbey Gate. Another suicide bomber struck a nearby hotel.
Since then, officials say 13 U.S. service members have died, Military Times reports — 10 of them Marines. Another 18 service members suffered injuries. Sixty Afghans died in the attack, and more than 100 were injured.
What we know
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Aug. 18 that the Minnesota National Guard battalion and two Marine battalions were deployed to Afghanistan on Aug. 12.
The Minnesota National Guard members, specifically Task Force 1-194, had been stationed in Kuwait since March of 2021, according to the U.S. Army. The task force comprised approximately 1,100 soldiers. The Army also provided three photos of task force members, connected to the mobilization in Afghanistan.
The task force, on its Facebook page, confirmed its presence with a copy of a letter sent to family members, in a post from Aug. 21.
In an Aug. 24 post, the National Guard said Task Force 1-194 had been positioned to respond to the evacuation efforts in Afghanistan. The task force was among those "helping secure Hamid Karzai International Airport during the evacuation of U.S. citizens and allies," according to the National Guard's post.
It later continued: "The task force is securing vital sectors of Hamid Karzai International Airport. In addition, Task Force 1-194 Soldiers are providing humanitarian assistance to U.S. citizens, special immigrant visa holders, and their families."
The Minnesota National Guard also posted about it in a now-deleted tweet Aug. 24. Here's a screengrab via a cached site:
Other prominent figures have highlighted the Minnesota National Guard task force's efforts publicly, as early as Aug. 23, including SMA Michael Grinston, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Maj. Gen. Jo Clyborn, Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen who serves as director of the Army National Guard.
The task force also shared a U.S. Army Central video Aug. 25, commenting they were "providing medical and in-processing support" to evacuees.
The U.S. Army, in a caption on one ifs photos, said: "Minnesota Soldiers are providing humanitarian assistance to U.S. citizens, special immigrant visa holders, and their families."
What we don't know
It's still unclear whether any Minnesota National Guard members were injured or killed in the attack on Kabul's airport.
Neither the National Guard, Minnesota National Guard or Task Force 1-194 have posted publicly about its involvement in Kabul since the attack occurred.
Bring Me The News reached out to the Minnesota National Guard for more information, and was directed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Bring Me The News has reached out to that office as well, but has not heard back.