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Last of Lewis-McChord’s Stryker brigades Afghanistan-bound

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on April 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
April 19, 2012 2:14 pm

The Pentagon announced Thursday that the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will deploy to Afghanistan later this year.

The nine-month deployment that is scheduled to begin in early winter will impact 3,900 soldiers and their families.

It would be the third deployment for the brigade, which served twice in Iraq from 2007-08 and 2009-2010.

The brigade will deploy as Combined Task Force Raider and continue the work training Afghan security forces so they can take over their own security after U.S. combat troops leave as early as mid-2013.

“Drawing on experience from two deployments and the past year and a half of advanced training, our team will step forward and serve proudly as disciplined, resilient professionals, strengthened by the support of our families and communities,” Col. Michael Getchell, the brigade’s commander, said in a statement.

In August 2010, the 4th Brigade became the last U.S combat brigade to leave Iraq as more than seven years of combat operations ended in that country.

The brigade could conceivably be among the last combat brigades out of Afghanistan. In February, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the U.S. would step back from its combat role as early as mid-2013, ahead of the scheduled return of all American troops the following year.

With the announcement, all three Stryker brigade’s based at Lewis-McChord will be in Afghanistan this year and there likely will be a short window when all three will be deployed there at the same time. The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division deployed at about half-strength in December, with its remaining units joining it last month and is expected back by Christmas. The first soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division have flown there and the rest will follow through this month for their nine-month deployment.

The brigade has been actively training for the last 18 months. It held two brigade-wide field exercises at the Yakima Training Center and will head to the National Training Center in California for a final readiness check before heading overseas.

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