• December 20, 2014

More Black Jack soldiers coming home in Jan.

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Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2014 4:30 am

About half of the more than 3,000 deployed troopers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, will be home by the end of the month, officials announced this week.

The “Black Jack” Brigade deployed in July with its six battalions to provide security assistance force spread across three regional commands. The early redeployment of 15th Brigade Support Battalion and 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion began in November.

On Wednesday, Col. Robert Whittle, brigade commander, announced most of 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, and the brigade headquarters would be home this month.

“The remainder will be back by the end of March and that’s when every single one of us will truly come home,” Whittle said during a phone interview from Bagram Air Field.

Col. Christopher Garver, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul, attributed the reduction of troops in Afghanistan to a strengthening Afghan National Security Force, among other conditions.

“Additionally, our forces are predominantly conducting a security force assistance mission — training, advising and assisting our Afghan counterparts — which requires a different array of forces than in previous phases of the campaign,” Garver said. “In response to these changes, we have been able to send home additional elements of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade, which has performed admirably during its deployment.”

To ease confusion for families, officials listed on Facebook the companies and battalions remaining in Afghanistan through March. This includes all of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment; and much of 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.

“A lot of what we’ve been doing out here is securing the closure of tactical infrastructure,” Whittle said. “We’ve turned over a lot of forward operating bases to the Afghan Nation Security Forces. That in turn reduces the footprint out here in theater. That means that the brigade combat team itself doesn’t need as robust a infrastructure.”

The reduction also means the brigade’s headquarters element is no longer needed to provide mission command. Those soldiers remaining in Afghanistan will continue the missions they have conducted over the past six months.

“Typically what they’re going to be doing is securing forward operating bases, conducting combined arms route clearance operations, keeping lines of communication open and also convoy escort teams,” the colonel said.More homecoming ceremonies are expected on Cooper Field next week.

“We really appreciate the tremendous support we have from the Fort Hood community, from our families back home and from the 1st Cavalry Division and III Corps, and we look forward to the return of the entire brigade combat team by the end of March,” Whittle said.

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