KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As the paratroopers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Task Force 4-25, complete their 10-month deployment to Afghanistan, the workload gets heavier as the Spartans prepare for their long journey home to Alaska.
Small groups of paratroopers from TF 4-25 have been returning home in small groups since August.
The majority of the brigade is within days of heading home. Over the last few weeks, larger groups of soldiers have been arriving back at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The planning and moving of the paratroopers from Afghanistan back to Alaska is coordinated and controlled through the 725th Brigade Support Battalion’s Deployment Distribution Operations Center, or DDOC.
Army Maj. Kevin Dixon, the officer in charge of the DDOC, hailing from Savannah, Ga., describes the redeployment from a combat zone as a major job in itself.
“It’s almost a seven- to 10-day process,” Dixon said. “By the time a soldier leaves his post. Getting back here to Bagram and then us flying them to Manus, Kyrgyzstan and then from Manus all the way back to Anchorage; it can almost take up to 10 days.”
Dixon describes the DDOC's operation as “graduate level logistics,” since everyone in Khowst Province, Afghanistan, has to come and go through Bagram Air Base. A lot of careful and essential planning is needed to handle the thousands of troops who pass through Bagram on their way home.
“We usually get a 24-hour notice and start arranging with the organization that we provide,” Army 1st Lt. Mike Bores, a native of Medford, N.J., and the DDOC battle captain said. “We also have to provide their basic living services, such as food and water ... make sure that they can shower. And once they get to Bagram, we have to have buses to transport them in order to get the larger group of soldiers from point A to point B.”
In addition to troop movements, Bores also manages the transportation of equipment. While most equipment stays in place for the incoming troops, there is still a lot that will go back.
“The toughest thing we’d have to move would be the communications equipment ... having to get that stuff set up ... having our stuff pulled back and making sure it’s all good to go before it comes back,” Bores said.
The majority of the brigade will be home by late October. An official welcoming and redeployment ceremony is scheduled for the Nov. 1.