09 January 2010

Hail and Farewell

According to a couple of National Guard Bureau press releases today, there were eight Brigade Combat Teams either shipping out or coming home this past week. Only one of these, the 86th Infantry BCT, seems to be headed for Afghanistan. At least one brother Red Bull is headed off with the "Green Mountain Boys," and I wish them all Godspeed.

Here's what NGB had to say about the 86th IBCT:
About 1,500 Guardsmen from the 86th BCT are currently at Camp Atterbury, Ind., preparing for their deployment to Afghanistan, where they will replace the 48th BCT of the Georgia National Guard.

Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan Farnham, the Vermont Guard’s joint staff director, will head-up the newly created Afghan National Security Forces Development Assistance Bureau, which will oversee the training of Afghanistan’s security forces.

“It appears that my group will be doing some data collection, some analysis, receiving reports and doing some war-gaming of things to make suggestions on how to improve on how things are going given the resources that are available,” said Farnham in an interview with Vermont Public Radio in December.

He added that he will lead about 100 Soldiers, including some military members from Macedonia, which is one of Vermont’s State Partnership Program countries.

Farnham’s mission in Afghanistan is an offshoot of the Vermont Guard’s original mission of heading up Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, which was responsible for training the Afghan National Army.

“I know that Task Force Phoenix, which we originally believed tbe manning and managing, is in the process of going away and being reorganized,” he said. “It appears to me to be a little leaner and a smaller footprint than it originally was.”
One of the 86th IBCT send-offs was headlined by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (That's him talking with one of the troops in the photo above.) Here's an excerpt of another NGB press release offers a few toothsome quotes:
“Afghanistan has become a more dangerous place,” he said. “One of the reasons the president made the decision to add 30,000 troops is because the insurgency is much tougher and more violent.”
But while the mission is tougher, he added, it is not impossible. “We know how to do counterinsurgency,” Mullen said. “I’ve been doing this for over four decades, and I have great confidence in them. We know what to do, [and] we know how to do it.”

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