82nd Airborne beefing up Afghan election security
GIs from Fort Bragg-based unit join 17,600 U.S. troops in country
QALAT, Afghanistan — The lead elements of a 700-member-strong battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division have arrived to provide support for Afghanistan’s September elections.
A small group from the 1st Battalion, 325th Air Infantry Regiment, moved from Kandahar Airfield to Forward Operating Base Lagman recently, joining with forces from the Vicenza, Italy-based 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment.
The Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 82nd Airborne troops will provide additional security for the National Assembly and Provincial Council elections set for Sept. 15, said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
The battalion will join with about 17,600 U.S. forces already in Afghanistan.
“[Their deployment] will provide greater flexibility to continue offensive operations and enhance security during the election period,” O’Hara wrote.
“We want to provide Afghanistan with an environment for democracy to flourish,” he added. “It is our goal to allow security that promotes participation in the election process.”
The battalion will be in Afghanistan, O’Hara wrote, “until their mission is completed.”
O’Hara wrote that deploying additional forces for Afghan elections isn’t unusual, as it had been done for presidential elections last year.
The remaining units of the 1st Battalion, 325th Air Infantry Regiment are continuing to move into Afghanistan and will augment existing units throughout the U.S. area of operations.
The battalion’s anti-tank platoon leader, 1st Lt. Adebayo McGill, said his soldiers are ready for their upcoming mission.
“Definitely,” he said. “We’ve been training for a while.”
Unit personnel have already started to go out on short familiarization missions with their 173rd Airborne Brigade counterparts, but have yet to run into Taliban fighters.
“We’re ready for anything they throw at us,” McGill said.
The soldiers of 1-325 aren’t the only 82nd troops currently in Afghanistan. The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment arrived in May for a yearlong deployment.
Lisa Burgess at the Pentagon contributed to this report.