About 2,800 Fort Bragg aviation soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan in late spring, several months earlier than expected, the Pentagon announced Monday.
The 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, which had been planning a fall deployment, must accelerate its schedule for training and modifying equipment, the commander said. The deployment will last for 12 months.
“I don’t think there’s any family that will welcome this news, especially during this period,” said Col. Paul Bricker, the brigade commander. “However, it is the reality of serving in an Army family when your nation is at war.” Soldiers have been home for 14 to 22 months, he said.
Bricker said he wants to keep things as “predictable” as possible for soldiers and their families and will not cancel any scheduled unit vacations.
The deployment will be the first time since 1990 that the brigade has deployed as a whole, Bricker said. The brigade’s battalions have made repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 82nd Airborne Division’s combat aviation brigade will deploy to increase the capabilities of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
“Upon the recommendation of commanders on the ground, the secretary of defense approved this request, which will increase the level of forces and military capability for NATO-ISAF,” the announcement said.
The United States continues to be NATO’s largest troop contributor. The missions include offensive counterterrorism operations, training and equipping the Afghan national security forces and assisting with reconstruction.
The combat aviation brigade had a schedule of high-altitude training in Colorado to practice for the rigors of flying in the Afghan mountains. There also were scheduled rotations to combat training centers for exercises in which it would be pitted against an “opposing force” in conditions resembling combat and then evaluated.
“We are trying to minimize the amount of time these troops spend away from home right now,” Bricker said. “There is training we can do right here at Fort Bragg. We have great training facilities here.”
The brigade has senior warrant officers and noncommissioned officers with recent experience in Afghanistan, he said.
“That will greatly assist us in mitigating risk for those folks,” Bricker said.
The brigade has asked for accelerated fielding of the F model of the CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter, Bricker said. The twin-rotor helicopter dates to the Vietnam War. The F model features a modernized airframe, avionics and survivability, according to Boeing.
The Army Aviation Warfighting Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., will provide additional instructors to come to Fort Bragg to speed up fielding of the F model aircraft, Bricker said.
“This is an exceptional aircraft,” Bricker said. “It will be excellent in Afghanistan.’’
The F model helicopter can be landed successfully in conditions with no visibility, Bricker said.
“In Afghanistan, the dust is so intense that capability on that aircraft will be of great value to us,” he said.
The brigade is currently assigned to U.S. Northern Command, whose headquarters are in Colorado, to support civil authorities in response to nuclear, biological and chemical incidents. That assignment probably will continue until the Army identifies a replacement unit and a transition can occur, he said.
“That’s another one of the issues that will have to be resolved,” he said.
About 3,500 paratroopers from the division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team left Fort Bragg last month and this month for a yearlong deployment to Iraq. Soldiers have been conducting drills at Camp Buehring in Kuwait to hone their skills at fighting in an urban area.
The 82nd Airborne’s 4th Brigade Combat Team and 1st Brigade Combat Team expect to deploy in mid-2009.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team will be kept at Fort Bragg in coming months to serve as a global rapid-response force.
If you wish to contact us by e-mail, fax, phone or letter please contact us at:
82nd Aviation Assn Longstreet Rd.
Fort Bragg NC
Disclaimer - DOD images, symbols, and insignia on this site are used only in reference to their official military unit; they are not logos or otherwise associated with the 82nd Aviation Association. Additionally, the appearance of external hyperlinks on this or any 82nd AA web pages does not constitute endorsement by the 82nd AA of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein.