Army's Modular Force Makes Debut in Afghanistan
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2006 New, modular brigade combat team units accompanied the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division on its third tour to Afghanistan, the division's commander told Pentagon reporters today.
"This marks the first deployment of the Army's modular force to Operation Enduring Freedom," Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley said from Afghanistan during a satellite news conference. Freakley is also commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, based at Bagram Air Base.
The task force has more than 15,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors and Marines and about 4,300 coalition members, including Canadian, British, Dutch and Romanian forces.
The 10th's brigade combat teams are part of the Army's transformation into a more agile force with improved firepower.
About 50 percent of the 10th Division's soldiers are either Afghanistan or Iraq combat veterans, Freakley said. And around 35 percent of the 10th's people now in Afghanistan have seen combat there before, he said.
Navy, Marine and Air Force fixed- and rotary-wing fliers support the 10th Division contingent in Afghanistan. "This is a great joint team," Freakley said.
Freakley said the keys to establishing security and stability across Afghanistan are partnering with the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, and the Afghan Border Police.
U.S. and coalition forces fight alongside the Afghan army during anti-terrorist operations throughout Afghanistan, Freakley said. U.S. forces also conduct operations with Pakistani forces whenever possible, he said. The 10th division also supports provincial reconstruction teams, which work to rebuild or improve Afghanistan's infrastructure.
"The infrastructure here is very embryonic; it's a tough infrastructure," Freakley said, noting that infrastructure improvement improves security, which is followed by reconstruction.
Freakley noted that U.S. forces in Afghanistan's eastern regions will come under the command and control of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in the fall. At that time "NATO will take responsibility for all of Afghanistan for security, reconstruction and helping with governance," Freakley said. "We think that it's a logical and constructive step in the growth of the international community's assistance to Afghanistan."