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Gates Approves Deployment of Aviation Brigade to Afghanistan

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has approved the deployment of an Army aviation brigade to Afghanistan this spring, a Defense Department official said today.

The deploying unit -- the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C. -- will comprise about 2,800 soldiers and a fleet of rotary-wing aircraft, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

The brigade will serve the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan mission as an “enabling type of force” for ground units, Whitman explained.

“This is part of the continuing commitment to increase our military capabilities in Afghanistan,” he said.

The plus-up supports an overall increase of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which is expected to total about 25,000 additional troops, American Forces Press Service has learned.

In addition to the deploying aviation brigade, the plus-up will include four brigade combat teams and other “enablers,” Whitman said. One of the brigade combat teams -- the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade -- will deploy in January.

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