Final homecoming flights for 4th SBCT bring home 600 troops, brigade leadership
August 5, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, colors touched down on American soil along with the brigade commander, command sergeant major and approximately 600 soldiers, July 28, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The final three flights came in between 2 p.m. on July 28 and 5:30 a.m. on July 29.
"Our mission was to advise and assist and help train the (Afghan National Security Forces)," said Col. Michael Getchell, the 4th SBCT commander.
There were a number of highlights during the nine-month deployment, said Getchell.
"One of the (highlights) that really stands out for me is this summer is Afghanistan's first fighting season and we watched the security forces decisively defeat three enemy counterattacks in this stated enemy fighting season," he explained.
"The other piece was the effort of helping recover ...17,000 pieces of equipment and getting that turned in and properly accounted for so we can use it at a later date as we continue training," Getchell said.
The deployment was Getchell's fifth and his second deployment to Afghanistan. He previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2002.
"It was great to see the difference and how much the Afghan National Security Forces have matured in 11 years," he said. "It was a very different country from 2002 to 2013."
However, it was Pfc. Robert Squires' first deployment, and a very "different" experience, he said.
"It's going to be hard integrating in to normal society conversations," said Squires, who worked in a tactical operations center on Combat Outpost Luke in Regional Command- South, Afghanistan.
Being on one of the brigade's last flights out of Afghanistan did not bother the forward observer.
"When I came home didn't matter as long as I got home," he said.
Now that the brigade has redeployed, it is time to reintegrate the Soldiers and reset the brigade, said Getchell.
According to the Army Force Generation process, during the reset phase, which is one of three phases, Soldiers conduct family reintegration, block leave, unit reconstitution, changes of command, and other forms of readiness reintegration.
"Certainly the Army's got some plans for the brigade with the announcement of our deactivation, so we'll work through that whole plan of what that entails," he said. "At the same time, we're going to get right back to what we know and that's training under conditions that we find here in the pacific theatre of operations because if there's one thing these last 12 years has shown, it's that were in a time of persistent conflict and we need to be ready when the nation calls."
Getchell said a huge thanks is due to the JBLM and Lakewood communities and the Raider Ready Reserve, which consisted of non-deploying soldiers who kept the brigade operating in the United States.
"It took both teams to accomplish this mission," he said. "We didn't do it by ourselves in Afghanistan."