FORWARD OPERATING BASE LIGHTNING, Afghanistan (Jan. 2, 2014) -- The "Spartans" of 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), have once again come into the mountains of Afghanistan, bringing with them their hard-earned reputation forged through three previous Operation Enduring Freedom combat tours, dating back to 2007.
Their mission is to advise the country's national security forces during a pivotal time of transition as NATO continues to withdraw its forces from the country, and the 2014 Afghan elections loom on the horizon.
While these tasks do present conflicting challenges, the Spartans are comfortable with such difficult missions.
"This is an incredibly tough fight, but I can't think of any unit who's better prepared to handle a very complex problem," said Col. Sam Whitehurst, the Spartan brigade commander.
Like their Afghan National Security Forces counterparts, the Spartan brigade was born in this last decade of war, and has forever since been linked to the history of Operation Enduring Freedom with deployments in 2007, 2009, 2011 and now 2014, across Regional Commands East and South.
The Spartans are continuously chosen for the most challenging areas because they have proven consistency and resolve against the enemies of Afghanistan. Spartan Soldiers each carry a set of values of discipline, leadership, perseverance, trust and fitness that were born in war and fostered through their leaders.
Spartan Soldiers "always expect the unexpected and continually live on amber," added Whitehurst, which is a term used to describe always being prepared.
"It's a philosophy, a way of living," said Whitehurst.
And two months into this deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XIV, they continue to prove the brigade's reputation as it has taken the ground previously held by three full brigade combat teams with the extra task of advising the multitude of Afghan National Security Forces in more of an over-the-shoulder fashion.
The Spartan philosophy is one shared by all who come in contact with this storied brigade, friend and foe alike. Those who previously fought directly against the likes of 3rd Brigade's "Titans" of 3rd Battalion, 71st Calvary Regiment, and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, have learned the hard way.
The brigade has spent over a year preparing for this advisory mission and their partnered Afghan National Security Forces have already begun demonstrating a philosophy very similar to the Spartan's as they continue to demonstrate their ability to take the lead in securing their people.
As the Afghan National Security Forces steadily climb to the summit and take control, the Spartans of 10th Mountain Division edge ever closer to reaching the base and its final chapter. It is only fitting this brigade, forged in this war, was the one chosen the help see it through in its final stages.
As the war in Afghanistan comes to an end, so will the Spartan brigade, as it was selected for inactivation by the Department of the Army this past fall, marking this the final deployment for one of the most storied units of our times.
"We're all very humbled to have the opportunity to serve in this brigade," said Whitehurst.