FORT POLK, La. -- Forty-two Soldiers from the 162nd Infantry Brigade recently deployed to Afghanistan to act as combat advisors to Afghan security forces. In short, they will get to practice what they preach. The 42 Soldiers of Task Force Tiger are the first Soldiers of the 162nd Inf Bde to deploy as a task force in support of combat operations since World War II. These Soldiers will fill a variety of roles as advisors for Afghan Security Forces.

"This is our first operational deployment since 1945 ... almost 65 years," said Col. Mark A. Bertolini, commander of the 162nd Inf Bde. "The Task Force Tiger Soldiers are deploying to help support the surge, and are going forward to regional training centers to work with the Afghan National Police."

The deployment for the Task Force Tiger Soldiers is a 179-day tasking. Task Force Tiger is comprised of mostly senior Army personnel in the rank of staff sergeant and above, and its officer in charge is the 162nd's deputy commander, Lt. Col. Albert Abbadessa.

"We are glad to contribute to the surge. Without the help of the brigade staff and the installation, we could not have deployed as quickly and efficiently as we did," said Abbadessa.

The 162nd Infantry Brigade's primary mission is to train combat advisors from all components of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This training is either done in residence at Fort Polk, or at a unit's home station in the case of active-duty Soldiers. Now, Soldiers from Task Force Tiger will be filling roles that they normally train others to perform.

"I think as cadre members that normally train advisors, they will bring a lot of their expertise to bear," Bertolini said. "They are experienced in advisor skills, culture, history and language, and went through a month-long training process to meet all their deployment requirements."
The mission to form and deploy Task Force Tiger came from the highest levels of the Army, according to Bertolini.

"We're a strategic asset and unique to the Army as an organization," he said. "We are a TDA (table of distribution and allowances) unit under (U.S. Army Forces Command), and a TDA organization doesn't normally deploy."

During their six-month tour in Afghanistan, the Task Force Tiger Soldiers will fill a variety of roles that range from assisting ANP recruiters to teaching the ANP to perform their duties. Training others to fill those jobs is the norm, and not something anyone assigned to the unit expected to do.

"Although not in our (mission essential task list), this deployment shows the flexibility of the brigade and our ability to deploy in support of national objectives," Bertolini said. "It's such an important mission. We sent about five percent of the brigade strength downrange, and included the deputy commander of the brigade to be the Task Force Tiger commander."

The deployment will have little impact on the brigade's day-to-day mission of training combat advisors. The unit had adequate time to prepare for the deployment, and the redundancy and cross leveling of tasks that are built into the 162nd Inf Bde allows the unit to maintain its pace of producing high-quality combat advisors that are trained and ready to deploy, according to Bertolini.

While deployed downrange, the Task Force Tiger Soldiers and their Families will have everything they need, Bertolini said. The brigade's Family readiness support assistants are here for the Families and have a wealth of experience in supporting deployed Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen. The deployed Soldiers even have help ready downrange in the form of liaison officers from the brigade that are already in place in Afghanistan.

"With the support that is in place here, and the training we received, we are confident in our ability to accomplish the mission," said Canadian Army Maj. Mike Evans, 162nd Inf Bde deputy operations officer, who is also a member of Task Force Tiger. "With the support we get here, and the support our Families get from the brigade at Fort Polk, it makes it easier to focus on accomplishing the mission."

Page last updated Fri February 26th, 2010 at 14:12