525th MI Brigade returning to Afghanistan less than a year after it was last deployed
By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: August 28, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The 525th Military Intelligence Brigade is returning to Afghanistan less than a year after it was last deployed.
More than 200 soldiers from the Fort Bragg-based unit will deploy in the coming weeks following a ceremony outside the brigade headquarters on Tuesday.
There, with many of the deploying soldiers standing in formation on Lightning Field, officials cased the colors of the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade and the 319th Military Intelligence Battalion.
Col. Daniel Benick and Command Sgt. Maj. Jebin Heyse, the brigade command team, will lead the deploying troops in Afghanistan.
Benick said the soldiers were ready for their mission.
“Before any deployment, the casing of the colors is a bittersweet occasion as we prepare to leave our homes and loved ones but also look forward to showing what this great team is capable of accomplishing,” he said.
Officials said the brigade’s soldiers will be spread across Afghanistan to lead intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in support of coalition and Afghan forces.
Benick said the mission continues the unit’s proud history in support of U.S. military operations.
The most recent chapter of that history came last year, when the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade deployed for nine months to Afghanistan before returning to Fort Bragg in October.
Benick took command of the brigade during the deployment, assuming his position during a July ceremony at Bagram Airfield.
On Tuesday, he said the brigade learned important lessons during its last deployment and could count on experienced soldiers to help guide those troops who are deploying for the first time.
A small number of soldiers from the brigade are already in Afghanistan, officials said. They are laying the groundwork for the eventual transition between the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade and the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, which replaced the 525th in Afghanistan less than a year ago.
Like last year, the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade will work to defeat terror networks, combat the illegal drug trade and protect coalition troops.
The brigade focused on the fundamentals in its buildup to deployment, Benick said. He also stressed that soldiers who are not deploying will also have important jobs.
“It is less a rear detachment and more so an operational task force,” he said.
Heyse, the senior enlisted leader of the brigade, said the soldiers who do not deploy will have their own missions in support of national defense.
“We will still have requirements back here at Fort Bragg,” Heyse said.
He said those requirements did not exist during previous deployments of the brigade.
Benick said the brigade was ready to deploy, fight and win no matter the location.
“We have trained hard, and I’m extremely proud of what this team has done to get ready,” he said. “We are ready now and I am confident in their ability to take care of each other, get the job done and come home with honor and pride.”
Military editor Drew Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org