Alaska soldiers prepare to deploy to Afghanistan
The 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team are preparing to deploy 1200 soldiers to Afghanistan on a nine-month mission in the war-torn country. The soldiers will start to deploy next week, with the full 1,200 arriving in eastern Afghanistan over the next month.
The soldiers’ mission is to train and advise Afghan Security Forces, helping them get better at conducting missions, managing their supplies and staffing, and becoming more independent from international support. Their mission is not focused on fighting, according to Major David Cochrane, the 4/25 Brigade Operations Officer, but the Alaska soldiers could see combat.
"There's a chance of danger,” said Cochrane. “We're ready for that. We're ready to escalate it as far as it needs to be escalated. That's always an option. However, we want to keep it as low intensity as possible."
The 4/25 has been training for this deployment for months, including at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana and in Australia for joint training mission Talisman Sabre. It’s a turnaround for the brigade, which the Army planned to cut two years ago.
"There's a high demand for this skill set, for paratroopers that are prepared and willing and eager to do a mission anywhere in the world at any time so recognizing that, the Army picked a brigade that wasn't supposed to be a brigade anymore and said, I want those guys to do this mission so that's what we're doing,” said Cochrane.
The soldiers who remain in Alaska will still be ready to respond to any issues that arise in the Pacific region or in the state.