Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Jelle
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
About 300 Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, cased the “Iron” Brigade colors Tuesday at the Special Events Center in preparation to deploy as part of the Security Force Assistance Team mission in Afghanistan.
Several of the brigade’s officers and senior noncommissioned officers will deploy for nine months in eight- to 12-person teams, advising elements of the Afghan Security Forces on security tactics and training methods, as U.S. forces begin to turnover security responsibilities to Afghan forces.
“We are being asked to conduct this mission during a time of transition — a time where the security and responsibility of the Afghan people shifts to the Afghan government and its security forces,” said Col. Michael Kasales, 3rd BCT commander. “It’s these men in front of you that have been asked to undertake this mission.”
“It’s a great opportunity for the 3rd BCT to excel and make a difference for the Afghan population and Afghan security forces,” said Maj. Troy Parrish, infantry officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT.
The majority of the personnel that make up the SFAT will come from 3rd BCT, Kasales said. Those Soldiers will be joined by elements from the 214th Fires Brigade out of Fort Sill, Okla., and various leaders from across 1st Army.
“I look forward to the opportunity that we’ve been given to make a difference over there,” said Sgt. 1st Class Wesley Sturdivant, cannon crewmember, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Reg., 3rd BCT.
The Iron Brigade was given less time than normal to prepare for this kind of mission, said 3rd BCT Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi. He said the deploying Soldiers went through focused training during the last 14 weeks, including a unique month-long rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La.
“Units are usually given anywhere from six-12 months to prepare for a combat training center rotation,” said Kasales. “We had four weeks.”
While these officers and noncommissioned officers deploy with the brigade commander, more than 3,000 brigade Soldiers will remain at Fort Carson under the leadership of Maddi. The remaining element of the brigade will continue to focus on Soldier training as its junior noncommissioned officers and lower enlisted step up to fill the key leadership positions those deploying leave behind.
“This deployment provides a huge opportunity for our junior leaders to cut their teeth on the responsibility of leadership,” said Kasales.
The brigade will also maintain its commitment to support the deployed Soldiers and their Families, said Maddi. The 3rd BCT created a care team, comprised of spouses to assist the Families of deployed Soldiers in the case of emergencies.
“I have the strong support of my spouse,” said Parrish, who is leaving behind a 6-week-old son. “The installation and the unit are great supporters as well, so I’m not overly concerned with leaving them for nine months.”
The Iron Brigade Soldiers are slated to begin departing for Afghanistan next month.