Airborne Unit In Alaska Tapped For Afghanistan Deployment

U.S. Army photo

About 1,500 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division in Alaska are deploying to Afghanistan as part of a regular rotation as the war in that country continues its 16th year, the Army announced Friday.

The rotational deployment of less than half of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel replaces another unit and does not signal an increase in troop levels, Army spokeswoman Maria Njoku said Friday.

Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that he needed a few thousand additional troops from the U.S. and NATO allies in order to undo significant gains by militants there. The U.S. troop level in Afghanistan is capped at 8,400 now.

Operation Enduring Freedom, the original Afghanistan mission launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was reflagged Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in 2015 as U.S. forces transitioned to an advise and assist mission with Afghan troops and police in their ongoing counterterrorism campaign.

Alaska-based soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division will deploy to Afghanistan as the security picture there grows more complex. The Islamic State has metastasized in the country and the Taliban has retaken large swaths of strategic territory, including Sangin in Helmand Province last month.

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO supreme allied commander Europe, told lawmakers March 23 that he was concerned about Russian military contact with the Taliban.

“I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late, increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” Scaparrotti said.

Reports also surfaced last month of Chinese patrols inside Afghan territory near the narrow border of those countries, further complicating security considerations and signaling greater Chinese interests in the country, Stars and Stripes reported in March.

The Army also said Friday that 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, the Pacific theater’s only airborne unit, will survive a 2015 decision to cut its strength by 2,600 soldiers and become a leaner airborne task force.

The decision was overturned following the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that called for the Army to grow its end strength to 476,000 soldiers and take on emerging mission requirements, Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said Friday. The final decision rests on congressional appropriation outlined in the NDAA, he said.


©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less