News: Spartan Brigade begins history-making final deployment
Story by Sgt. Javier Amador
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - With the final contingent of the nearly 2,000 soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division departing the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum Nov. 11 their final deployment as a brigade was officially underway.
Upon their arrival in-theater, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team will be assigned to Regional Command East, an area of Afghanistan which includes the provinces of Bamyan, Ghazni, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshayr, Parwan and Wardak, covering an area of around 46,000 square miles, roughly the size of Virginia and sharing the border with Pakistan.
Once there, they will begin their mission as a Security Force Advising Brigade where they will be primarily focused on providing support and assistance to the Afghan forces who have now taken the lead in securing their nation. This is a marked departure from the counter-insurgency missions which constituted the majority of the U.S. forces previous deployments.
With the planned goal of a complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The number of units being deployed has gone down and as a result the brigade will be assuming a larger area of responsibility with considerably fewer personnel.
A daunting challenge they are more than up to, as evidenced by the comments of Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of the 10th Mountain Division, as he gave the soldiers their final mission brief where he expressed his confidence in their ability to complete their mission.
“This division marched up the spine of Italy to defeat the Nazis, and that is a part of your legacy,” said Townsend. “The history of this division and our Army is riding on your shoulders. Other people will be reading about the history you will be making, about the end of the American campaign in Afghanistan.”
With the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s deployment being so close to the end of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the importance and size of their mission may have been a source of self-doubt for some of the soldiers. However, the 10th Mountain Division command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt, reassured the knowledge they will need is already in their ranks.
“If you want to know what victory looks like, look to your right and your left, look in the mirror,” said Merritt. “We are proud of you and know that you have been trained well. We know that the Spartans will do well.”