The last American troops may be out of Iraq by the end of December, but U.S. forces are still shipping out to combat zones, including 3,000 soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord who will begin deploying to Afghanistan in a matter of weeks.
The 2nd Infrantry Division's 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team is headed for counter-insurgency duty in southern Afghanistan, where its soldiers will conduct operations from M-RAPs -- shorthand for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. These are heavily armored troop carriers designed to deflect IEDs and other makeshift bombs used by insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Wayne Brewster, the brigade's deputy commander (and speaking in the video above), said the mission is to help the Afghan government and local officials expand access to health care and schools. He noted that the brigade will benefit from security and infrastructure improvements made by U.S. and NATO forces over the past decade.
"All these positive things are the function of all the hard work the units have done in Afghanistan, partnering with the security forces. Because each time we get them more capable and increase that capacity, that helps expand the success for them to stand on their own two legs," Brewster said.
For many soldiers in the brigade, this will be their fourth deployment, following three previous tours in Iraq.
The 3rd Stryker Brigade will join 2,300 soldiers from JBLM that are already in Afghanistan. The brigade will complete its deployment in January, with the mission lasting 12 months.
The brigade spent time in the military's National Training Center in California this year to hone their combat and counter-insurgency skills. An Army-produced video is below:
Reporting by KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen.