UPDATE Dec. 27: A public affairs officer from the 3rd Stryker Brigade sent a message to clarify that the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers pictured here will be working mostly in Zabul Province over the next year, not Kandahar. Zabul is to the east of Kandahar.
I apologize for the misinformed reporting.
Infantry soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord set up their operations in Southern Afghanistan and started sending images home over Facebook this week.
About 2,500 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division are set to spend the next year in the region, mostly in Kandahar Province. They’ll be charged with holding security gains in that province as U.S. forces scale down their footprint in the country.
Kandahar and neighboring Helmand Province have been the scene of heavy fighting over the past two years as NATO forces sought to go on the offensive in the Taliban heartland. NATO casualties in Kandahar declined somewhat this year, falling from 105 in 2010 to 91 in 2011, according to icasualties.org.
Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the war’s No. 2 commander and the senior leader at Lewis-McChord, last week told reporters that the drawdown is on schedule, with 10,000 more service members expected to leave by the end of this year. There should be 68,000 American service members in Afghanistan next summer, down from 91,000 today.