3/1 IBCT heads downrange; largest Knox deployment since WWII
December 28, 2010
FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Under the watchful eyes of their commanders and noncommissioned officers, Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, are heading overseas from Fort Knox, Ky., in numbers not seen here since the Second World War.
Leading the way for the brigade are elements of the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, who will be followed almost daily over the next few weeks by elements from all six battalions that make up the roughly 3,500 Soldiers of the 3/1 IBCT.
"The cavalry is on their way," said 6-4 Command Sgt. Major John Brownell, as he watched his troops complete final preparations for travel Dec. 28.
The Soldiers of the 3/1 IBCT, also known as the Duke Brigade, are heading to eastern Afghanistan for a one-year deployment. Their mission will be to assist the Afghan National Security Forces in protecting the Afghan people, neutralizing the insurgency, and setting the conditions necessary for successful transition of regional control to the Afghan government.
The 3/1 Soldiers will deploy over the next few weeks, and replace the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
After loading the majority of their baggage, Soldiers said their final goodbyes to families and friends at their company headquarters. A final stop at Sadowski Field House for some last checks and briefings was all that remained prior to leaving Fort Knox, and beginning a long journey halfway around the world.
For many, it was a day they had long planned for.
"The day is finally here," said Lt. Col. Mark Borowski, the 6/4 commander, adding that while it's never easy to leave loved ones behind, his Soldiers have trained long and hard in preparation.
"It's our job and we're ready to go do it," he added.
Last minute items to check, and in many cases re-check, included confirmation of all issued equipment and necessary personal items, including ID cards and tags. Small groups of 3/1 Soldiers had started to deploy to Afghanistan in the middle of December, and their mission was to facilitate and ease the transportation of the remaining Duke Brigade.
The Duke Brigade moved from Fort Hood, Texas to Fort Knox in October of 2009. Since arriving, they have conducted training designed to prepare them for the rigors of combat.
Many of the Soldiers deploying this time around are veterans of an earlier 3/1 Afghanistan mission, that ran from the summer of 2008 to the summer of 2009.
For Spc. Eric Castro, a supply clerk with Alpha Troop, 6/4, deployment will mean another year away from his family, which includes his wife and three children. He was also with 3/1 on their last mission to Afghanistan, and noted the huge impact families can have in keeping the morale up for their deployed Soldier.
"Leaving them really touches a spot," he said, then added that without the support of his family, he couldn't do his job.
Fort Knox garrison officials acknowledge deployment of the 3/1 IBCT as the largest combat deployment the post has seen since World War II.