Last SFAAT team deploys: 100 ‘Highlander’ Soldiers head to Afghanistan
Spc. Brandon A. Bednarek,
4th BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
In the brigade’s final push to support the advise-and-assist effort in Afghanistan, more than 100 Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, departed from Fort Bliss Aug. 28 as part of the continued Operation Enduring Freedom mission.
The departure of these “Highlanders” marks the last of 31 security force advise and assist teams, or SFAATs, for the roughly 350 Solders that the unit is sending to the eastern region of the country to train and mentor the Afghan National Army and Afghan Police, said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Merenkov, the brigade’s rear-detachment commander.
Just three days after the Soldiers deployed, President Barack Obama made his third appearance at Fort Bliss to discuss the end of operations in Iraq and the future of American forces in Afghanistan.
“Two years ago, I was here to mark a historic moment in the life of our nation and our military – the end of major combat operations in Iraq,” said Obama. “Just as we did in Iraq, we are going to end this war responsibly.”
Over the course of the next nine months, the SFAAT teams will work closely with Afghan Security Forces at every level to prepare them for the eventual transition to self-sustaining security by Obama’s planned 2014 withdrawal.
“We are the main effort for the foreign policy of the United States of America,” said brigade commander Col. Terry P. Cook, who also deployed Aug. 28. “General Allen said the Army is going to security force assistance advisory teams as a bridging strategy to establish security force assistance brigades, which is the exit strategy, so that Afghans can take over the fight themselves.
The Highlanders’ role in the SFAAT mission will be pivotal and set the precedence for providing life-changing opportunities to the Afghan people, who will be able to make choices and decisions they’ve previously never had, said Cook.
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