Joint Base Lewis-McChord has three Stryker combat brigades, and all of these units will have soldiers in Afghanistan by the fall of this year.
On Thursday, the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was the latest of these combat brigades to get deployment orders for Afghanistan beginning sometime in the fall.
Iin December, the base’s 3rd Brigade left Lewis-McChord for Afghanistan for a year’s deployment. Then in recent weeks, soldiers from the 2nd Brigade began heading to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province for a nine-month tour of duty.
All three brigades are formed around the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles – troop transports that offer high-tech communications systems, weaponry and other capabilities.
The brigades are taking part in a major transition in the long-running war as U.S. and other NATO forces hand over more responsibilities to Afghan forces, and reduce their overall numbers.
This year has had setbacks, with the inadvertent February burning of a Quran by U.S. troops, triggering protests and shootings of American by members of the Afghan forces, and the killings of 17 Afghan civilians in what the Army alleges were acts of premeditated murder by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales of Lewis-McChord.
The 4th Brigade has about 4,000 soldiers but an Army statement Thursday did not indicate how many would deploy. Some brigades are deploying with smaller numbers of soldiers who will focus on training Afghans.
The statement said the 4th Brigade will “continue the work of enabling Afghan National Security Force s to take and maintain the lead in securing the Afghan people…”
Brigade Commander Col. Michael Getchell said “we are honored to be chosen and called upon for this mission.”
The brigade previously deployed to Iraq twice, and was the last combat brigade to leave Iraq in 2010.