Fort Bragg Soldiers Redeploy, What Happens Next?
As soldiers and families are reunited at Pope's Green Ramp this week, families plan ahead for leave, but it's business as usual as they complete the reintegration process.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team, led by Col. Brian Mennes, cased their colors last week in a Transfer of Authority ceremony to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2ID, at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
Also returning home are soldiers from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and the 1st Brigade Combat Team, led by Col. Mark Stock during their six-month assignment to bolster numbers in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.
Many troops have been returning to Fort Bragg over the past week and more are yet to come over the next few days.
What happens while they are waiting to get back stateside?
The soldiers were moved from Afghanistan to Bagram Air Base as a transitional base before leaving the middle east. While Bagram Air Base is an established base for other units, some soldiers from Fort Bragg have been in waiting for the past two weeks until their flight back to Pope Army Air Field.
According to family members, the temperatures are in the high 90s and the paratroopers have had to stay outside in un-air-conditioned tents with 100 other soldiers. The tents are well worn and on nights when it rains, it trickles through some spots pouring down onto the war weary soldiers causing a ruckus and low morale as one might imagine.
Organizations like the USO and smaller AAFEES Post Exchange tents are set-up to serve the soldiers, but those final weeks and days in limbo take a toll on the troops as their families are making 'welcome home' banners and planning special dinners for this week.
Once the soldiers arrive at Green Ramp, a typical schedule means they meet their family at Green Ramp in an emotional ceremony after they step off the aircraft onto the red carpet and are greeted by their chain of command. After the initial meet and greet, the soldiers are bussed back to their unit to turn in and maintain accountability for their weapons and sensitive items that they carried back with them from war. Upon being released to home, they are expected back to work the next morning to complete the reintegration cycle that began during the pre-redeployment phase. After the mandatory reintegration process is completed, the paratroopers will be granted their two weeks of leave next month.
"It's going to be hard seeing him go back to work the next morning," said Andrea Howard, "But I understand, and their overall emotional health is at stake, glad the Army has stepped up to realize that."
This marks their third deployment since 2006. Paratroopers from 1-508, 2-508, 4-73, 2-321, 508th STB, 782 BSB operated in the Districts of Zharay and Maiwand. Congratulations Fury soldiers and families, you are nearly finished.