By Sgt. Brian RaginSeptember 25, 2014
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Approximately 350 Spartans from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division are scheduled to deploy to Kosovo on a nine-month-long rotation to conduct peace and support operations as part of Kosovo Force, Multinational Battle Group-East, and the unit formally honored its paratroopers in a deployment ceremony here at Buckner Gym Sept. 19, 2014.
A small contingent of paratroopers assigned to the brigade's Headquarter Company and several hundred paratroopers assigned to the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment will support ongoing peacekeeping operations in Kosovo as part of the NATO-led Kosovo Force.
The 1/40th's most recent deployment was to Afghanistan's Khost province, where the unit partnered with Afghanistan Security Forces until its redeployment in October 2012. Today, the 1/40th, nicknamed, The Denali Squadron, stands ready to deploy to the European Command area of Operations in support of KFOR19 to ensure a safe and secure environment for the people of Kosovo.
While operating as a part of the battle group, Spartan paratroopers will work daily alongside military service personnel from not only Kosovo, but from several partner nations as well, including Romania, Armenia, Moldova and Kazakhstan.
"I am kind of anxious; a little nervous leaving the family, especially here in Alaska," said Staff Sgt Gerald Neal, an intelligence analyst for the 1/40th, who is beginning his first deployment. "The winter is coming up, and it is kind of harsh."
Fortunately, for paratroopers living on post, there is a program that helps out with driveway and sidewalk snow removal while the service member is deployed.
The main body deploys late this month and will travel to Germany for a monthlong training exercise before beginning the rotation. The unit is scheduled to return in late summer 2015.
The peacekeeping mission is new for the Spartan Brigade, as its deployments have largely been combat operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
"Just for the safety factor, I am glad it is not a combat deployment," said Neal. "But, because it is not a combat tour, it might move slower, but we will see."
"I feel good about it," said his wife, Brittney.
As it conducts the Kosovo Force mission, the multifaceted Spartan Brigade will continue to hold its responsibilities as a U.S. Army Pacific Command rapid contingency response force.