By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald
WEST FORT HOOD — After a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade is officially home.
The brigade uncased its colors during a Friday morning ceremony on Ready Field, signifying continuity and a safe return home.
"You went to Afghanistan at a critical point in that nation's history," said Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, who oversaw the ceremony.
The Ready brigade and its three battalions deployed to south and east Afghanistan, conducting missions in Kandahar and along the Pakistan border, with two soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice.
"Your exemplary conduct of the difficult counterinsurgency and stabilization operation in support of Operation Enduring Freedom have shaped the future of the region and your successes will have major impact on the rest of the world," said Campbell.
The 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion provided intelligence that led to the removal of 250 high-value targets and the intervention of more than 160,000 pounds of lethal aid and drugs from the battle space, said brigade commander Col. Gary Johnston.
The battalion also worked with locals at the Kandahar airport to enhance customs operations and helped increase the Afghan government's revenue by 57 percent.
Johnston also recognized the effort of the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, which provided support for the 1st Cavalry Division. The unit assisted with more than 25,000 intelligence reports that led to the capture of 45 high-value targets, while supporting the Afghan reintegration program, which helped the Afghan government track insurgent leaders.
Johnston credited the brigade's 2nd Battalion, 38th Cavalry Regiment, with removing 8,000 pounds of homemade explosives from the battlefield.
"The terrorists are being defeated today by the courage, selfless commitment and determined efforts of our Afghan partners and the soldiers standing before us today," said Johnston.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.