The Department of Defense announced today the 173rd Airborne Brigade, located in Vicenza, Italy, will deploy to Afghanistan beginning in spring 2007. The brigade, which was previously scheduled to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom, will instead deploy to Afghanistan. Upon the recommendation of commanders on the ground, the Secretary of Defense approved this request, which will maintain the current level of forces necessary to provide sufficient military capability for the NATO-International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to further improve security and stability operations.
This deployment affects approximately 3,200 personnel, and sustains the United States’ current commitment to Afghanistan by providing a replacement for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, which was recently extended for up to 120 days. Two U.S. brigade combat teams in Afghanistan provide military capability and combat power required for NATO to continue its initiatives in promoting stability and security in the winter and spring, while denying safe haven for the Taliban.
The United States continues to be NATO-ISAF’s largest troop contributor, and remains committed to leading the offensive in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, training and equipping the Afghan national security forces and assisting with reconstruction. Force levels in Afghanistan are conditions-based and will be determined in consultation with the Afghan government and NATO.
DoD will continue to announce major unit deployments, to include the replacement unit for the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Iraq, as they are identified and alerted. For information on the unit announced today, please contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.