Fort Polk soldiers arrive for mission in Afghanistan

(Source: Sgt. Eric Provost/U.S. Army/DVIDS)
(Source: Sgt. Eric Provost/U.S. Army/DVIDS)
(Source: Sgt. Eric Provost/U.S. Army/DVIDS)
(Source: Sgt. Eric Provost/U.S. Army/DVIDS)

The following is a story by the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs, written by Sgt. 1st Class E.L. Craig and Sgt. Eric Provost:

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division Security Forces Assistant Brigade "Patriot" soldiers arrived in eastern Afghanistan early in July for what is expected to be a nine-month deployment.

"The SFAB's primary mission is to continue the outstanding gains our predecessors have achieved while advising our Afghan partners across all Afghan National Security Force pillars" said Maj. Keith Madere, the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division operations officer. Madere said the SFAB's mission places primary focus on the ANSF.

"Our goal is to advise and assist the ANSF as it continues to increase its combat capacity and to integrate its efforts with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's intent," said Madere, a native of Baton Rouge.

The Patriot Brigade, based out of Fort Polk, began sending soldiers in late June. The entire element arrived over a three-week span. The brigade headquarters staff, mostly assigned to Forward Operating Base Gamberi, is replacing the 4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division "Long Knife." Elements of the Patriot Brigade are also replacing 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division "Bastogne."

Other members of the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division SFAB are pairing up with their Afghan National Security Force counterparts across the rest of Regional Command East to transfer skills and knowledge.

During the initial weeks of deployment, Patriot soldiers will conduct relief in place with their Long Knife and Bastogne counterparts leading up to the official transfer of authority. During this time, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division's predecessors will provide lessons learned.

Some soldiers of the Patriot Brigade have never been to Afghanistan, so they rely heavily on their training received at the Joint Readiness Training Center. The center simulates real-world combat scenarios.

Because this is my first deployment, the only knowledge base I have to work from is the brigade's Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La.," said 2nd Lt Elizabeth Patarcity, an intelligence officer, with the 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div.

Patarcity said the noncommissioned officer she is replacing has been at FOB Gamberi for nine months.

"This isn't his first deployment; he's bringing a lot of information and experience to what I don't have. He's helping me do my job better," said Patarcity, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Assimilation in the work place is not the only focus; Patriots are also getting settled into their new homes.

"The beds aren't that bad and the air conditioning is as cold as it can be for a hundred-degree weather." Said Sgt. Jonathan Kelley, 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div., medical operations noncommissioned officer, of Pisgah, Miss.

As Patriot Brigade soldiers take over their RC-East mission, the training they received at Fort Polk's JRTC and the information passed by their predecessors will prove to be essential to Patriot operations in Afghanistan.