FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team began deploying Soldiers to Afghanistan Jan. 9 with the departure of nearly 130 Soldiers of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment from Fort Drum's Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

They are the first of more than 3,000 Soldiers from the brigade who will deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The remainder of the battalion will be deployed by the end of January.

"Our battalion, and specifically this company, was notified of the requirement to move very quickly to Afghanistan in about the middle of December," said Lt. Col. Michael Loos, battalion commander. "From the date we were notified, it has been only about 10 or 11 working days."

In that brief time, Loos said, C Company has had to rapidly organize itself by getting all of its equipment and Soldiers fully prepared for the early Saturday morning flight.

"This is the first company from our battalion that has been asked to move quickly in support of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan," Loos explained. "Along with the company, we have a small portion of the battalion staff that will help to build the [training] plans."

Commonly known as "Triple Deuce," the battalion has been tasked with training soldiers in the Afghan national army in support of OEF.

Loos, who will make this his fourth deployment to Afghanistan, said this company needed to move quickly.

"I believe it is answering what the administration asking of our Department of Defense and our Army - that is, to move rapidly, place our Soldiers in support of OEF, quickly build additional Afghan army capabilities and improve the quality of their soldiers, and to reach an end-state where the Afghan army will have the capability to operate independently of the coalition forces," he said. "This really goes a long way towards that to make it happen."

The 1st BCT was originally scheduled to deploy to Iraq during this same time frame; however, those orders were canceled in October and subsequently changed, putting the unit in line to deploy to Afghanistan. The remaining units in the brigade are set to be fully deployed by early spring.

This mission will mark the brigade combat team's fourth deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism. It is the second time 1st BCT has deployed to Afghanistan. The brigade has deployed twice to Iraq.