10th Mountain Division Extension
Soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division's 14th Combat Support Hospital distribute clothing and other items to Afghan villagers at a staging area near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, during a medical civil action program Jan. 15.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Army News Service, Jan. 9, 2007) - Families of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, received the second of six briefings from Fort Drum leaders offering help in such areas as finance, behavioral health, spirituality and legal concerns Feb. 1-2.

The Army announced Jan. 25 a 120-day extension to the unit's yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. The extension affects 3,200 Soldiers and their families.

Brig. Gen. James Terry, deputy commanding general, operations, explained the reasons for the extension.

"The 3rd BCT has been very successful. ... They are in the right place to have an impact in Afghanistan," he said. "It's the right decision as we look at the threats out there. They are dedicated and understand the threat to our nation and our way of life."

Lt. Col. Kevin Brown, division rear detachment operations officer, explained how the timeline will work for Soldiers coming home. He also dispelled rumors, saying that a plane bringing Soldiers home did not turn around mid-flight over the ocean; Soldiers will not be forced to sleep in tents for the next few months; and troops will not be sent on missions without mission-essential equipment.

"Our Soldiers will have all the equipment they need ... before they are sent to accomplish a mission," he assured family members.

He added that only three of 500 shipment containers actually left port in Afghanistan. The rest are still there, and belongings will be returned to troops as soon as possible. The Army also is providing extra uniforms at no cost to Soldiers and 143 new up-armored humvees, and additional chaplains have gone to be with the troops.

"There is a plan to relieve the 3rd Brigade," Brown said. "There is a plan in place, definitely not another extension after this."

Maj. Rick Nelson, division deputy G1, informed the crowd that all Army post offices supporting the 3rd BCT are still open, and mail will reach Soldiers even if they change locations.

Other leaders spoke about housing and waiting lists, tax filing help and free child care. To help children deal with the extension, the school liaison officer will visit all 64 schools in the area, including private schools.

Eight Department of Army officers, part of a Tiger Team, were also on hand to answer questions.

A spouse who asked if her husband will be home for the birth of her baby was told that Col. John Nicholson Jr., 3rd BCT commander, will do his best to make it possible for Soldiers to go home for lifetime events.

Spouses said they appreciated the briefing and the assistance offered immediately afterward at support stations.

"It's nice to have it all in one place and not have to run all over the place," said Jo Meadows.

"The briefing was very informative, and it's nice to have a one-stop shop," Rebecca Strong agreed. "(The extension) was disappointing at first, but you just have to pick up and keep going."

Kathleen Darling said the briefing changed her attitude and helped her understand the reasons behind the unit's extension.

"They were talking about how good our Soldiers are at what they're doing, and how they are the best people to be over there right now because they have made so much progress," Darling said. "They're finishing the job they started. When I really thought about that, it made me realize that instead of being angry about the extension, we should be so proud of our Soldiers."

(Hannah M. Hayner writes for the Fort Drum "Blizzard.")

Page last updated Fri February 9th, 2007 at 09:56