Columbiana councilman to leave in May for Afghanistan tour of duty: Sheriffs office investigator to fight terrorism overseas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tim Billingsley&8217;s fight against terror will soon take on a new shape.

The Columbiana city councilman and FBI joint terrorism task force investigator will leave in February for 60 days of training before serving a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan.

This is actually his third mobilization since the war on terror began, but his first overseas deployment.

However, Billingsley said he looks forward to the new challenge. Currently, he works with counter-terrorism, which prevents future terrorism attacks, but in Afghanistan he will focus on eradicating terrorism.

&8220;It&8217;s taking that fight reversely,&8221; he said. &8220;Where now I&8217;m a counter-terrorism investigator, I will be in an actual anti-terror role where you are taking the enemy out.&8221;

Billingsley has had many years of experience to preparing him for a new role.

At the Shelby County Sheriff Office, he has worked both patrol and investigations, served on the SWAT team and been a sniper team leader. He was even sent to Somalia with a ranger support unit in the early nineties, during the &8220;Black Hawk Down&8221; conflict.

Once in Afghanistan, Billingsley will imbed himself within an Afghan army company and teach them more effective ways to run their army. &8220;Afghanistan has kinda become the forgotten war,&8221; he said. &8220;We will teach them how to do their day to day army stuff. Then we will go out with them and take them to the fight.&8221;

Billingsley has been with the Shelby County Sheriff Office for 10 years, and with various branches of the military since graduating college from the University of Alabama in 1986.

He has been an instructor in the military since before desert storm in 1990 and has trained sheriff officers since his second year with the Shelby County office.

Now, his leadership and training skills will bring him a new level of responsibility. &8220;This is an opportunity as an enlisted soldier you don&8217;t get. It&8217;s taken me 20 years to get this opportunity to go over.&8221;

Billingsley and his family lives in Columbiana, and they are prepared for his deployment.

&8220;Even if I go to Camp Shelby for two weeks it&8217;s an adjustment,&8221; he said. &8220;They know some of the stuff I&8217;ve been involved with locally is just as scary. When I was on patrol, I was just one guy and backup is 10, 15 minutes away. There, wherever I go I&8217;ll have a hundred guys with me with guns.&8221;

Currently, he and his wife are both on the city council, and any changes to the council won&8217;t be made until he leaves the country in May.

Since his first term in 2000, Billingsley has spent extended time away from Columbiana and continued to actively serve the city.

Billingsley&8217;s efforts as councilman focus on strengthening Columbiana&8217;s public safety sector, and last year the city was recognized by the National Weather Service as a Storm-Ready City.

He now hopes the work he has done for the city&8217;s safety will &8220;not be attached to a personality&8221; but be continued by whoever takes his place in May