goodbyes
A 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, noncommissioned officer kisses his wife goodbye prior to departing Fort Sill to attend training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. 214th Fires Brigade personnel are training prior to a deployment later this year.

FORT SILL, Okla.-- With a tentative pullout date from Afghanistan set by President Barrack Obama and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for 2014, U.S. Soldiers are moving toward advisory roles in-country.

The 214th Fires Brigade is to play a part in that process with its upcoming spring deployment. To prepare for their mission, Soldiers will immerse themselves in a monthlong, real-as-it-gets training at Fort Polk, La.

Hosted by Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center, the Home of Heroes' stated mission is to "train Soldiers and grow leaders to deploy, fight and win." It will provide live training for multiple scenarios Soldiers may likely face in-country. These range from village key leader engagements to small unit tactics in both mountainous and desert environments.

"I'm excited; I've never done the training before," said Sgt. Brian Story, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery. "It's supposed to get you into the mind set of the region and how to prepare for it."

In addition to preparing to defend against inevitable conflict, Soldiers will learn how to advise Afghan security forces. U.S. troops will have to strike a balance between teaching Afghanis self-defense through modern tactics and equipment while at the same time maintaining a degree of secrecy as to how American forces conduct operations and guard sensitive information. For many, this will be a new experience, a new role to play in modern warfare.

"They are going to train us to be advisers. A lot of us haven't done that before," said Sgt. 1st Class Brock Gardner, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 214th FiB. "This will give us a better picture about what's going on over there."

After the JRTC training, the deploying Soldiers should have a complete understanding of their new role in that country. They should have the tools and training they need to keep themselves and their Afghani counterparts safe and informed.

"There are two goals for this: I come back alive [from Afghanistan] and the unit I go with improves," said Capt. Jacob Roecker, 2-4th FA.

The 214th FiB will lay the groundwork for future advisers and missions. The Soldiers' efforts will reflect in Afghanistan's future. Ideally, with U.S. assistance, the country will continue to rebuild itself and be a sticking point for democracy in the region.

Page last updated Thu February 16th, 2012 at 00:00