ARLINGTON, Va. – The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Vermont National Guard was notified in June that they would deploy to Afghanistan early next year.
Since that time, they have completed pre-mobilization training at Fort Polk, La., and are currently training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., prior to heading overseas.
President Obama’s announcement about an increase in troop strength in the region does not affect their mission or their timeline, but they will be prepared for whatever comes their way.
“We are just adjusting and being flexible to whatever the theatre desires of our brigade,” Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, the adjutant general of the Vermont Guard, told the Pentagon Channel today.
The unit has already had to adjust to one mission change.
They were initially to deploy as part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, which oversees the training of Afghan National Army personnel. Now, rather than concentrating on one area, the unit will be spread throughout the region and may take on other missions, said Dubie.
“Now we’re training to send a combat brigade … as a combat brigade as opposed to the training mission,” said the general. “Most of the changes took place because (the U.S. military leadership in Afghanistan) wanted to spread out the training mission across the entire (area) and consequently Task Force Phoenix as it was originally operating was going to change.”
Though the mission has changed somewhat, for the families and friends of those in the brigade it still means time away from their loved ones.
“I’ve been meeting with the families for the last three days,” said Dubie. “The family members are very resilient, but it’s a tough time of year.”
Dubie said that community support has been strong as well. “It’s very inspiring to see how the families across America support our men and women in uniform,” he said “The outpouring of support from Vermont was overwhelming.”
And that support is one of many things the brigade can draw on while they complete their mission overseas.
“It’s a mission that has to be done,” said Dubie. “We’re highly trained, and this is the best-equipped and best-led force in the history of the Vermont Guard. We’re very confident of what the Vermont Guard will be able to accomplish in Afghanistan.”