By Sgt. Jaime D. De LeonDecember 21, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Col. Patrick D. Frank, 3rd Brigade Combat Team commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, senior enlisted adviser of the "Spartan" Brigade, met with members of the local media Dec. 13 via video teleconference to update North Country residents on the brigade's progress in Afghanistan and to thank them for their support.
The Spartan Brigade is nine months into what is expected to be a 12-month deployment to the Zhari and Maywand districts of southern Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
"The place that the Taliban started is exactly the spot that 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division currently finds itself in," Frank said. "As we got in here and we assumed operational control for these two districts, we immediately began a very aggressive set of offensive operations."
The Spartan command team is confident that the offensive operations have been successful in their fight against the Taliban.
"Our Soldiers, they are winning. Our brigade is winning," Carabello said. "There is physical progress wherever you go throughout Maywand and Zhari. Bottom line is, with the brigade, everything that we did in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan has paid off. Our Soldiers have done incredible work in an area that desperately needed an injection of combat power."
"What we have seen now is that the Afghans, based on the secure environment, are starting to do things that they haven't done for 25 or 30 years," Frank said. "In Nahlgam, we were approached by the village leaders to request to have a wrestling tournament. Of course, the Taliban had not allowed any sports to be conducted when they were in power, and we eagerly said, 'Yeah, sure we can have a wrestling tournament.' About 100 men showed up for the tournament."
Although the brigade has made much progress during the past nine months, it has not been without sacrifice.
"It has been a tough deployment as far as the area that we have operational control over," Frank said. "This is one of the most lethal areas in Afghanistan right now. Our Soldiers have changed that over the course of the summer. As the sergeant major said, we are winning here."
However, Frank added, Task Force Spartan, which includes various units attached to 3rd BCT, has lost 36 Soldiers so far. Twenty-four of the fallen Soldiers belonged to 3rd BCT, with the remaining 12 lost from the attached battalions.
Despite the profound losses Task Force Spartan has faced, Soldiers are keeping their heads up.
That high morale is, in part, thanks to the support that Soldiers receive from the North Country, Carabello added. Care packages arrive every day, from Families of Soldiers as well as North Country residents.
"The sense that I get is that the morale is pretty high," Carabello said. "Some struggle more than others, but the bottom line is, as a whole, the brigade is doing very, very well and is looking forward to coming home in the early spring."