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Fort Drum's 2nd Brigade continues to train, awaits orders

Julia Botero
Soldiers attending the State of the Brigade at Fort Drum.

President Barack Obama officially declared the war in Afghanistan over at the end of 2014, but he also promised to send more U. S. troops to the country to train Afghan security forces. The Army has not identified who those soldiers will be, but leaders with Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division are confident they will be among the first to head back to Afghanistan.

There are more than 600 soldiers in the 2nd Brigade's artillery unit. They shuffled into an auditorium at Fort Drum in their green army fatigues for "The State of the Brigade." It is a bit like Gov. Andrew Cuomo's address last week, but instead of talking about the state of New York, Col. David Doyle talks about the brigade, where it has been, and where it is headed in the next six months. The speech is also a bit of a pep talk

"Get out there and go after it and train hard and be proficient so you will be able to get out there and be ready to deploy when called upon to do so," said Doyle.

Most of the soldiers are young privates. Some of the older ones were once members of the dissolved 3rd Brigade.

Fort Drum 1st Brigade has been training in Fort Polk, Louisiana all month. The group of soldiers at the State of the Brigade speech will head there next week for what the Army a training rotation — the final step in readying soldiers for deployment.

Doyle is the 2nd Brigade commander. He said after Louisiana these soldiers will be ready for the new mission in Afghanistan, Operation Resolute Support. He explained the most skilled soldiers will work with Afghani leaders to help their security forces be more effective.

“There are only a few units who will have gone to this... rotation in a timely manner and be on that available package list," said Doyle. "So we are that unit. We are that unit that is going to be trained and ready to a very high standard. So we are the unit who will provide those forces. That's a big mission. That's really the advice component."

Doyle explained they would likely be on a security mission protecting U.S. forces on bases in Afghanistan.

A young soldier asked when they will have their orders. Doyle said he doesn't know. The Army has not issued orders to anyone.

"There is such a degree of change in Afghanistan that the requirements change frequently. So, we're waiting for the official word to make sure we have all the parts and pieces put together the right way," said Doyle.

Doyle said he is certain if any brigade will deploy it will be the one sitting in front of him. That is good news for soldiers like Specialist Roy Taylor, who are eager to serve. Taylor has been in the Army for three years but has never deployed to Afghanistan.

"No. I haven't. This is my first rodeo. I'm ready," said Taylor.

Specialist Domingo McKnight has served longer than Taylor, with tours in Kuwait and Korea.

"We've been getting the run around. March, April, June, May, July. But I think we will be deploying for the most part," McKnight said.

In the meantime, McKnight and Taylor said they will be preparing their minds, bodies, and their family for that possible mission overseas.