FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Hundreds of Family members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division stood in the early morning light outside brigade headquarters Friday to see their paratroopers one last time as the unit departed Fort Bragg en-route to Afghanistan for a 12-month deployment.
This is the second deployment to Afghanistan for the 3,300-man unit, having returned from a 15-month deployment in April 2008.
It will also be the second deployment for Staff Sgt. Richard Lyden, a section sergeant from Indianapolis, who through tear-stained eyes said it would be his hardest.
He will be leaving behind his wife of three years, Colleen, and seven-month old Aubrey, his first child.
"It's going to be hard," said Lyden, with Troop B, 4th Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment. "But we will do good things. We will be out on patrols, working with the Afghans and meeting the people to help make their country better."
Brigade Commander, Col. Brian M. Drinkwine, said it's an important mission the unit will undertake, as the brigade is taking on a security assistance force mission in which they will embed with the Afghanistan National Security Forces. He said they will do this in order to help train Afghanistan's forces and help them improve their country's security situation.
"I give great credit to the Army for picking the 4th Brigade to go back to Afghanistan," Drinkwine said. "It's hard leaving our Families, but we are excited about our mission as it's a critical time in Afghanistan, and it's important for us to go back as there is still more work to be done."
The brigade will gauge their success during the deployment in three ways, Drinkwine said.
"The people have to have trust in the Afghanistan national security forces, the enemy has to fear and respect them and the Afghanistan national security forces have to have confidence in themselves," he said.
The brigade brought in experts from the Middle East to train specifically for this mission.
Subject matter experts on Afghanistan and those who have spent time living with and among the Afghan people came to Fort Bragg to "help take us thru challenges we may face," Drinkwine said.
Challenges he said his paratroopers are ready to face.
"We are well trained and ready to execute," he said.
The brigade is slated to operate out of Regional Command West and South.