JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Proud onlookers fill the stands as 4,000, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Soldiers stand ready to deploy to Afghanistan.
The 2nd SBCT, 2nd ID “Lancers” cased its colors on Watkins Field March 30, in preparation for their mission to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
Initially, they will conduct unified land operations in order to support the Afghan National Security Forces in their actions against anti-government activities.
The brigade will also help train and professionalize the Afghan National Security Forces as part of an effort to transition military operational command over to them. This will help create the stable conditions necessary to begin the transition to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, according to the International Security Assistance Force website.
Colonel Barry Huggins, commander, 2nd SBCT, 2nd ID gave thanks to the surrounding communities, the leadership and Soldiers of Joint Base Lewis-McChord as well as to the Families that showed up in support of the Lancer Brigade.
They will deploy as Task Force Lancer and continue the work of partnering with the Afghan government to create a safe and stable Afghanistan for its people so that the country can no longer be used as a sanctuary for terrorism, said Huggins.
“The soldiers of the Lancer Brigade accept with pride the charter from the American people through our elected leaders to go and defend this nation far from our shores,” said Huggins.
“The leaders of the Lancer Brigade and I accept with humility, the responsibility to lead America’s sons and daughters in this endeavor,” said Huggins. “When we return I pledge we will return with honor having expended our energies to protect others and in the hope that we will have earned the gratitude that you so generously bestow upon us now.”
The Lancer Brigade has taken great lengths to prepare for this deployment with several rotations to the Yakima Training Center and the National Training Center.
“I wholeheartedly feel that the leaders and soldiers of the Lancer Brigade are of the finest quality and are competent and capable of completing any and all missions assigned,” said Col. Tobin L. Green, the National Training Center operations group commander, in an interview with Staff Sgt. Bryan Dominique at the NTC. “This unit was extremely successful wherever assigned. The drive and determination of the leaders and soldiers of this brigade will continue to prove an invaluable asset to the United States and its operations worldwide.”
With programs in place that include the brigade Family Support Group and the battalion Family Readiness Groups there is no lack of support for the families or the soldiers of the Lancer Brigade.
“We have tremendous support from the U.S. and the community, even the communities that disagree with the war in Afghanistan from a political standpoint still support the soldier and we are a stronger Army because of that,” said 2nd Lt. Greg Barry, A Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment.
The soldiers have prepped their family members and friends for the prolonged absences ahead, just as much as they have prepared themselves for the tough job they face.
“The condition you leave your family in when you leave and the peace of mind you have for them at home, will help you stay focused during your time downrange,” said Barry. “In addition to the training and physical preparation and going to the field, the biggest thing a soldier can do is make sure their family has a plan, make sure that their family is prepared and well taken care of.”
“I have some trepidation of him going to war knowing that it’s dangerous, but I am a Christian and I know God will keep him safe both here and over there,” said Katherine Barry, 2nd Lt. Barry’s wife.
“I’m very proud of him it takes a very honorable person to be willing to stand up for others,” said Katherine.
Communication between family, loved ones and the soldier can often be the key to strong mental health and a relationship that weathers the deployment.
“To help prepare for the separation with Elizabeth and my family we talked about it, we have plans to write letters and stay in contact through email,” said Staff Sgt. Ronnie Simmons, 1-17 Inf.
“I recommend that family members attend all the family functions and become friends with other soldier’s families. The soldiers should talk to their family openly and honestly about their fears and emotions and not try to keep it bottled up,” said Simmons.
The 2nd SBCT will leave for Afghanistan prepared and trained for its mission to help the Afghan people, knowing the soldiers of the brigade have family and community supporting them. The leaders of the Lancer Brigade look forward to returning from their mission with honor and pride.