Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division spent the past month training in the California desert with an eye on a possible deployment to Afghanistan, according to Army reports from its exercises.
Brigade commander Col. Barry Huggins went so far as to act out a ceremony marking the completion of a civil affairs project that would benefit Afghans. An Afghan flag fluttered above the exercise as Huggins depicted the pomp that would follow a bridge opening, an Army writer wrote.
“A man with seven sons, gave seven sticks to his sons and told them to break them. They broke them,” Huggins said. “He gave his sons another stick and said, ‘bind them together and they will never be broken, as today we stand together, we will not be broken.”’
Huggins’ brigade has not received an official deployment order from the Pentagon for a mission to Afghanistan. He’s shaping soldiers in the brigade to view themselves as protectors should they receive the order.
“I want our soldiers to understand they are men of honor,” said Huggins, “I want them to stay true to their values. I want them to have faith and confidence in themselves, their equipment and their leaders.”
“We’re taught not to be aggressive to the people, we’re taught to be friendly to the people,” said Sgt. Clayton J. Green, personal security detachment. “It’s important to show we aren’t bullies; we’re here to protect them.”
That brigade was surprised by its last mission to Afghanistan in 2009-10. The brigade – formerly flagged as the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division – had been preparing to fight in Iraq. Its leaders scrambled to adjust to the new mission as they went into their final pre-deployment training, and former brigade commander Col. Harry Tunnell did not buy into the Army’s strategy for the war in Afghanistan, according to an Army investigation obtained by The News Tribune.