The US now has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 as recently as 2010. The US and its NATO allies agreed in November 2010 that they would withdraw all their combat troops by the end of 2014, but they have yet to decide what future missions will be necessary and how many troops they would require.
At stake is the risk of Afghanistan's collapse and a return to the chaos of the 1990s that enabled the Taliban to seize power and provide a haven for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Fewer than 100 al-Qaida fighters are believed to remain in Afghanistan, although a larger number are just across the border in Pakistani sanctuaries.
Administration officials in recent days have indicated that they are
considering a range of options for a residual US troop presence of as few as
3,000 and as many as 15,000, with the number linked to a specific set of
military-related missions like hunting down terrorists.
On 02 October 2012, the Department of Defense announced the deployment of roughly 1,390 Troopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan in November, this year, for a nine month tour. Units of the 4th Brigade Combat Team that will participate are: 2nd Battalion. 7th Regiment; 1st Squadron, 9th Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 12th Regiment, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery; 27th Brigade Support Battalion; and the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion. The 4th Brigade Combat Team will field about 16 security force assistance advisory teams composed primarily of officers and senior noncommissioned officers to advise, assist and enable the Afghan National Security Forces.
Since the staffing level of the Brigade is approximately 3,700, not all of the
Brigade Combat Team will be deploying. Soldiers not deploying will be
reorganized into other elements of the Division, while others will serve in
the Brigade Rear Detachment. During deployment, the rear detachment. in
addition to their liaison duties, will be responsible for maintaining
Soldiers of the Brigade have completed several months of training including a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk as a final training event leading up to this deployment. The Long Knife Brigade will join Regional Command-East to conduct an important new mission in Afghanistan operating out of Laghman and Kapisa provinces as a security force Advisory and Assistance Brigade, replacing the 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado. These new teams are a critical element in the continuing efforts to improve the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Force and will help them take more responsibility for the security of their country.
Just under half of the 3,800 Long Knife soldiers staff will deploy. The remaining soldiers will fill the rear detachment staff functions; or otherwise be transferred to the command of other units in the Division.
On 12 November 2012, the last party of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Long Knife), with a short but rich history of service to the Nation, deployed to Afghanistan. This staging completed the deployment of the Brigade, which began on 30 October.
The brigade will initially be stationed at Laghman Province, Afghanistan with
the current mission of serving as a Security Force Advisory and Assistance
Brigade in the Regional Command- East of Afghanistan. Though this mission is
new to Afghanistan, it is not new to the Long Knife Brigade. The Brigade has
served in an advise and assist role in Iraq in previous deployments.
The SFAB is composed of multiple security force advise and assist teams, who will work shoulder-to-shoulder with the 201st Afghan National Army Corps and other components of Afghan National Security Forces across the provinces of Laghman and Kapisa in eastern Afghanistan.
With this new mission comes new challenges and hurdles to overcome. The brigade left nearly 60 percent of its combat power at its home station of Fort Hood, Texas. The Soldiers who have deployed to Regional Command East were specifically chosen for this mission and many are wearing multiple hats during the deployment.
With four deployments in six years, including serving as an advise and assist
brigade in the closing days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, coupled with numerous
field exercises, training events and an intense, but successful, rotation at
the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA., there is no doubt that
Long Knife is ready to act as a larger-scale Baron von Steuben to its Afghan
During the last few weeks, care packages have poured in at the FOB, containing cards, ornaments, lights, Santa hats and other assorted decorations along with the care and support of their senders. Stockings containing candy, cookies and other tasty snacks were passed out to the troops. The stockings were then hung around many an office.
More than 75 Soldiers from various religious faiths were able to rotate their
duty assignments so that they could participate in a Christmas Eve candlelight
service put on by the Brigade Unit Ministry Team.
Stationed at Forward Operating Base Shank, Logar Province, Afghanistan, the "Nomads" provided Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance(ISR) support to Regional Command-East via the use of the Gray Eagle, an unmanned aerial system designed for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, as well as strike missions. During their deployment, the only company in the Army who has executed Gray Eagle combat missions, operated 12 Gray Eagle aircraft and flew ove 10,000 hours.
The operation marked the first time in the Army a company completed warfare missions with Gray Eagles, as it deployed 117 Soldiers last March and redeployed the entire company without loss of life over the course of the year.
In all, 12 Brigade Combat Teams will be inactivated, including two Brigade Combat teams, stationed at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr, Germany, Two Brigade Combat Teams will remain in Europe to fulfill strategic commitments. One Brigade Combat Team will be inactivated at each of the following installations: Fort Hood; Fort Bliss; Fort Bragg; Fort Campbell; Fort Carson; Fort Drum; Fort Knox; Fort Riley Fort Stewart and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The Army led an exhaustive review before deciding where and how to cut, - looking at the Geographic Distribution, Environmental and Socioeconomic mpacts of the reductions. The final decision was based on a number of criteria, including the ability to train, provide for Soldiers and Families and the ability to expand and regenerate forces.
The changes will reduce the overall number of headquarters while sustaining as much combat capability as possible, with the reinvestment of the Soldiers, equipment and support personnel into the remaining Brigade Combat Teams.
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Revised 27 Jun '13 SpellChecked