Some Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers who deployed to Afghanistan a few months ago are coming home early because of the Obama administration’s quickening withdrawal of U.S. forces from the war zone.
Small groups of soldiers from Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division started coming home this month. The unit, known in the Army as the Raider Brigade, deployed in November and December with about 3,000 soldiers who expected to stay in Afghanistan through July or August.
The bulk of them still anticipate serving in Afghanistan through the summer, according to letters commanders have sent home to family readiness groups.
“As senior leaders develop and refine U.S. strategy on how the military will continue drawn down in Afghanistan, you can expect to see soldiers from the Raider Brigade return home earlier than expected. While this is exciting for the families affected, it can be hard for the families of those soldiers who remain in theater through their full deployment,” wrote Lt. Col. Will Downing, commander of the 4th Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment.
Last year, two Lewis-McChord Stryker brigades fought in southern Afghanistan. The 4th Brigade expects to be the last Lewis-McChord Stryker unit to deploy there.
Its soldiers have been partnering on missions with Afghan security forces and handing over some forward bases to them. Some 4th Brigade soldiers are serving in volatile districts outside the city of Kandahar.
A visiting writer from Long War Journal last week reported that the Lewis-McChord soldiers are finding Afghan civilians who are fed up with Taliban attacks and buried mines. Bill Ardolino went to a forward base in Kandahar’s Panjwai District.
“On first impression, the present security situation seems to have improved significantly in the past two months and the local uprising against the insurgents is robust and sincere,” he wrote. ”But crucial caveats to this progress remain: Can the Afghan security forces maintain their fight as the US overwatch diminishes?”