FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- More than 300 Fort Riley troops are preparing to say goodbye to their loved ones to join their fellow Big Red One soldiers in Afghanistan.
Leaders with the 1st Sustainment "Durable" Brigade cased their colors Monday during a ceremony on Cavalry Parade Field. The event is a symbolic last step in preparation for deployment.
They'll join thousands of other Fort Riley soldiers already in Afghanistan. The 1st Infantry Division took charge of military operations in eastern Afghanistan back in April. Operating as Combined Joint Task Force-1, the 1st Infantry Division is commanding and controlling operations throughout RC-East, an area roughly the size of Virginia including 14 provinces, 7.5 million Afghans and 450 kilometers of a mountainous Pakistan border.
The Sustainment Brigade’s mission in Afghanistan is to provide U.S. and Joint Task Force Coalition Forces with support services including: transportation, supply, signal, and other operations.
"We will support Regional Command East, Capital and North with all logistical supplies- that’s transportation, beans to bullet and the mail is also another category. Anything logistically that a war fighter on the ground needs to make his mission successful and make his life a little more comfortable will flow through our brigade," explained Colonel Brian Tempest, Commander of the 1st Sustainment Brigade.
During the ceremony, Fort Riley's Senior Commander, Brigadier General Don MacWillie, said: "They will take command of the longest supply route in the country of Afghanistan where they will push everything from bullets to fuel to mail to support soldiers serving in Regional Command East, Regional Command Central and Regional Command North." He added that their work will have a direct impact on soldiers on the ground.
"The soldiers in the brigade have been doing a train-up for the past year. They’ve gone through training in Alaska, training here in the states at several different locations and they’re very well trained and ready to go," Command Sergeant Major Virgil McCloud told WIBW.
This is the brigade’s third deployment since its activation at Fort Riley in 2007. This marks its first deployment to Afghanistan. The soldiers will be deployed for nine months.