ANCHORAGE — Soldiers in the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team prepared to return to Afghanistan in what will be the third deployment for the Fort Richardson unit.
Col. Morris Goins, commander of the airborne group of the 25th Infantry Division, said Tuesday an advance team will begin leaving early in November in what could be the last, post 9/11 deployment to Afghanistan. The bulk of the brigade’s six battalions will arrive by December.
Thirteen soldiers from the brigade of 3,500 soldiers died in combat during the previous deployment.
Goins held a roundtable to talk about the upcoming deployment and the impact on families left behind, the Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.
The Army has prepared for the deployment by beefing up counseling for those families, and schools and churches are providing support as well, military officials said.
Goins said some 2,000 soldiers in the brigade are married. Many were expected to renew their vows in a special ceremony. The Army also is installing special video conferencing links between Anchorage and each battalion headquarters in Afghanistan so soldiers can stay in touch with developments at home.
The 4-25th was created at Fort Richardson in 2005. It deployed for nearly 15 months in Iraq during the surge and the worst of the civilian bombings and insurgencies of 2007. Fifty-three soldiers from the brigade died during that deployment.
The brigade spent 14 months at home then deployed for a year to Afghanistan in February 2009.
In that deployment, the 4-25th was assigned to the dangerous border provinces of Paktika, Paktiya and Khost. The areas are considered ground zero for the Haqqani Network, the Taliban allies with links to anti-American elements of the Pakistan security services.
This time it has been 22 months between deployments.
Asked whether the brigade will be getting into that kind of hotly contested territory this time around, Goins said, “It looks that way.”