Colonel Randy George Provides June 2009 Update
of "Mountain Warriors"
Hello, or as they say here in Afghanistan, As-Salam Aleikum! The Warriors have arrived in full force here in Afghanistan and we're settling in and getting used to our environment. During the last couple of weeks, we have been working closely with the unit from Fort Hood, Texas to learn everything we can from their experiences the past year here in order to ensure our take over from them is seamless. Today, the Mountain Warriors assumed control of our area of operations. Because we are currently the only Brigade Combat Team from the 4th Infantry Division over here, we will fall under the command of the Combined Joint Task Force-82, led by the 82nd Airborne Division Commander, Major General Curtis Scaparrotti, and Command Sergeant Major Thomas Capel.
It's hot, hot, hot here, but incredibly scenic, as well. The Mountain Warriors are spread over a huge amount of terrain so where and how our Soldiers live is unique to the area they are in. Our Task Force Headquarters is located in Jalabad, a city of about 1 million. Many of our troopers, however, are located in very rugged mountainous terrain similar to what you’d find in central Colorado. We have all been surprised to see how the Afghans build houses and villages right into the deep mountain passes. We have Combat Outposts (COPs) located throughout our area of operations – many of them are austere even by “Soldier” standards. Despite the conditions, I’ve seen nothing but motivation and eagerness by our Soldiers to charge forward with the mission at hand.
Pech River Valley in Kunar
We’ll all be at our final destinations shortly, so I encourage you all to take the time to write a letter or send a package to your Soldier. The mailing addresses are posted on the Warrior vFRG website. I can't think of a bigger morale booster than a letter from home!
Our arrival here coincides with the critical Afghanistan National Elections. This August election will be the second national election process for the Afghans. We are supporting the Afghan National Security Forces as they work to ensure a safe and secure election process. Elections will be our initial focus, however, our continuing mission is to partner with and build Afghan security force and government capacity to bring stability and allow development to continue. We have many other agencies and talent on our team to help us out. We are fortunate to have members of the State Department, Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), and embedded police and army training teams to name a few.
As ever in the Army, where change is the order of the day, we have exciting news to share with the entire Mountain Warrior Family. Our Brigade Command Sergeant Major, CSM Johnson, was selected to become the Division CSM for the 1st Armored Division. He'll be heading back to Colorado very soon to pack up and begin another Army adventure. He, Chriss and the kids will move to Germany and help prepare his new unit for a mission to Iraq and then deploy again. Certainly, the 1st Armored Division's gain is our loss, but we are thrilled those fine Soldiers will get a consummate professional who will help prepare them well for their mission. CSM Johnson's boots will be incredibly tough to fill, but if any Soldier can do it, our own CSM Charles Sasser, currently the 2-12, Lethal Warrior Battalion CSM, is the man. CSM Sasser and his wife Frances have a long history with 4-4 and they know and love this unit. All our Soldiers are in great hands as CSM Sasser assumes responsibilities as the Mountain Warrior CSM.
As I close this note, I pray for your continued strength to endure this deployment and your positive support for all of us over the next year. I hope all the families have heard from their Soldier and feel a sense of peace knowing how well-trained every Warrior Soldier is. As always, if you have not heard from your Family Readiness Group, it's because they don't know you're
out there! With 1500 families spread across the United States, it is a monumental task to reach each of you. I encourage you to take a moment to check the Warrior vFRG website. Our Rear Detachment, FRG volunteers and a host of Army agencies are available to answer your questions or help you. The FRGs are a fantastic network of support for all our Warrior families. Our Rear Detachment and FRG are coordinating for Stress to Strength Family Workshops in August – stay tuned.
With each letter I post, I will try to answer a question from a family member. The first question comes from my own company, HHC/BCT. The family member asks: "Is it true that you all have to use donkeys to get around in the rough Afghanistan terrain?" ANSWER: Yes, there are places where we use donkeys to conduct resupply…and in fact, when we were still in Colorado we actually sent troopers out to be trained to handle donkeys!"
I wish all the best to each and every one of you and your families. God bless our Mountain Warrior team.