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Troops head home from Afghanistan early

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Hundreds of troops deployed to Afghanistan will return earlier than expected — some in time to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones, officials announced last week.

In the next few days, more than 100 III Corps soldiers will be back in Central Texas, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, wrote in the Fort Hood Sentinel on Thursday.

More than 500 soldiers from Phantom Corps left in April with plans to spend a year in Afghanistan serving as the headquarters for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul.

The 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed in July for a nine-month security assistance force mission. About 350 soldiers from the brigade’s 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion and 15th Brigade Support Battalion also will be home for the holidays, said Col. Robert Whittle, brigade commander.

With about 13 months left before all U.S. service members are scheduled to leave Afghanistan, the number of troops deployed will continue to shrink. There were 54,000 American troops there in September, and that number should drop below 34,000 by the spring.

Rose L. Thayer

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