The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army command team that left for Afghanistan late last month has officially begun its one-year assignment advising local forces in Kandahar province.
The 70-soldier cell from JBLM’s 7th Infantry Division took charge of its assignment at a ceremony last week that also marked the end of a deployment for a headquarters from the 1st Cavalry Division of Fort Hood, Texas.
Gen. John Campbell, the top-ranking NATO official in Afghanistan, attended the hand-off ceremony. He was joined by his senior enlisted adviser, Command Sgt. Maj. Del Byers. Byers was the first command sergeant major at the 7th Infantry Division when the Army launched it at JBLM in the fall of 2012.
“You have my total confidence,” Campbell said. “The fate of this nation is at stake, and the challenges before you are formidable…I know you will tackle the inherent complexity of our train, advise, and assist mission.”
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JBLM’s 7th Infantry Division will be responsible for the assignment in southern Afghanistan for the next year, but the soldiers there today will come home earlier.
The Army plans to rotate new soldiers from JBLM into Kandahar province to replace the first group within six to nine months.
The JBLM soldiers are working out of a headquarters at Kandahar Air Field. They are not expected to participate in direct combat. They are working closely with a brigade from the 10th Mountain Division that is providing security and also advising Afghan forces.