Army’s 10th Mountain Division headquarters tapped for Afghanistan deployment

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 17, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Army’s 10th Mountain Division headquarters will deploy to Afghanistan in the coming months on a regular troop rotation in support of ongoing operations in the nearly two-decade-long war, the service announced Friday.

The unit, based in Fort Drum, N.Y., will replace the 1st Armored Division headquarters as a command and control element for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the early spring, said Lt. Col. Kamil Sztalkoper, a spokesman for the 10th Mountain Division. The soldiers will spread out to locations across the country, supporting operations largely to train Afghan forces and fight terrorist groups, including the Islamic State.

Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes, the division’s commander, will lead the deployment. In a statement, Mennes called the 10th Mountain the “most deployed in the Army.”

“[W]e look forward to partnering with coalition forces and the Afghan security forces as they continue to build long-term stability for the people of Afghanistan,” he said in the statement.

The division headquarters will follow other elements of the 10th Mountain Division into Afghanistan on a planned nine-month rotation, Sztalkoper said. The division’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed late last year to Afghanistan and its 1st Brigade Combat Team will deploy to that country in the near future, replacing the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The deployments come as the United States weighs the size of its military force in Afghanistan. Army Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there, has advised Pentagon officials and members of Congress that he can accomplish his missions with about 8,600 troops, officials have said in recent weeks. The United States now has some 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.

It also comes as the Taliban announced Thursday that the group had proposed a seven- to 10-day ceasefire with American troops to the State Department official leading peace negotiations with the hardline Islamist group. The Taliban has waged an insurgency in Afghanistan after the United States toppled the group from power in 2001, charging it with harboring the al-Qaida terrorists responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

State Department and Pentagon officials declined to comment on that proposal.

The United States and the Taliban have been involved in on-again, off-again peace negotiations in Qatar for more than a year. The Taliban has demanded the removal of all American troops from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the United States wants concessions from the group — a guarantee it will not permit terrorist groups in the country, it will protect women’s rights and it will negotiate peace with the Afghan government.

It was not clear Friday what impact, if any, potential changes to troop levels would have on the upcoming deployments scheduled for 10th Mountain soldiers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

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