Alaska airborne/infantry unit begins Afghanistan deployment

Soldiers with the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) 25th Infantry Division at a deployment ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Sept. 8th, 2017 (Photo: Zachariah Hughes – Alaska Public Media)

The Army in Alaska is sending more than two thousand troops to Afghanistan. And they’ve already started deploying.

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At a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Friday, Colonel Mark Colbrook told soldiers and families the unit is well-equipped to advise and assist military counterparts with the Afghan government for the nine months mission.

“Your training, your competences as combined arms teams, and the lethal capabilities uniquely qualify you to teach and mentor your Afghan partners in the art and science of war,” Colbrook said.

The 4th brigade combat team’s 25th infantry division – or 4-25 — is sending 2,100 soldiers on the deployment. That’s several hundred more people than was originally announced by the Army in April. News that the unit would be going oversees on its third deployment to the war in Afghanistan came alongside the decision by the Army not to cut the 4-25’s size as part of a national reduction in the armed forces. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan fought against that cut, and was on-hand at the ceremony.

Alaska’s Governor Bill Walker talks with Colonel Mark Colbrook at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson ahead of a deployment ceremony for the 4-25 on September 8th, 2017 (Photo: Zachariah Hughes – Alaska Public Media)

“Of the 40,000 soldiers slated to be cut from the US Army, only one unit was spared,” Sullivan said. “One unit. This unit, the 4-25.”

Sullivan told the crowd that a high number of president Trump’s staff and advisors served or commanded in recent wars. And as a result, soldiers can expect an increasing amount of support during their deployment.

“They’ve all deployed to Afghanistan, they know sacrifice and courage,” Sullivan said. “They will ensure that you are resourced for this mission. In fact in a briefing I just received they emphasized that there will be much more close air support for you, and an emphasis on shutting down green-on-blue violence to protect you.”

Green-on-blue is a reference to attacks by Afghan police and military members on U.S. forces.

Some members of the 4-25 are already on the ground. The remainder of the unit’s personnel will ship out in the weeks ahead, scattered mostly around the eastern part of Afghanistan.

Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska.

@ZachHughesAK About Zachariah

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