Less than a year after leaving Afghanistan, the 10th Mountain Division is heading back.

In fact, more than a 1,000 troops are already on the ground and more are on the way, said Lt. Col. Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, the division’s spokesman at the home base at Fort Drum, N.Y. In a month’s time, more than 5,000 soldiers from the 10th Mountain, about half of the division, will be in Afghanistan, he said in an e-mail response.

The 10th Mountain, he said, is forming the nucleus for four key task forces in Afghanistan, including:

• Combined Joint Task Force-180: The division staff has formed the core of the top leadership outpost on the ground in Afghanistan, tasked with overseeing operations throughout the country. 10th Mountain took over primary responsibility of the headquarters from XVIII Airborne Corps in late May for an expected one-year commitment.

• Training of Afghan National Army: A task force of about 400 troops from 10th Mountain’s 1st Brigade, plus troops from the 2nd Armor Cavalry Regiment troops, took the reins of training Afghanistan’s fledgling Army from Special Forces in June outside of the capital city of Kabul.

• Patrols: The first 600 troops from the division’s 1st Brigade have landed in Afghanistan in recent days preparing to take over combat patrols throughout the country in the coming weeks. The brigade, which is expected to be deployed on a six-month rotation, is replacing a contingent from the 82nd Airborne.

• Joint Logistics Task Force: 10th Mountain Division’s Support Command will assume command of the Joint Logistics Task Force for Afghanistan in September for six months. The JLTF will consist of approximately 100 soldiers, including 55 from 10th Mountain.

The division is certainly no stranger to the region. 10th Mountain troops were among the first into Central Asia, supporting 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment first from Uzbekistan and later at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

The division officially handed off its responsibilities to the 82nd Airborne on Aug. 3 after nine months in the region.

Despite less than a year between the missions, Hilferty says the troops are eager to get back.

“I think most of them want to go do this. This is why these guys joined the Army. I haven’t heard any complaining,” Hilferty said.

Still, all this comes even as the division continues to support operations in and around Iraq. About 1,200 troops from the 10,000-strong division are still in Iraq, Hilferty said.

Meanwhile, the division’s 4th battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, has deployed about 300 soldiers to Djibouti joining the terrorist-hunting Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, he said.

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