Last week, our President laid out the way ahead in Afghanistan, which includes sending 30,000 additional troops to seize the initiative and build the Afghan capacity to allow for a responsible transition of our forces.
Our nation counts on the Army to organize, train, and equip forces that can deploy and achieve the strategic objectives the President sets forth. That is why we exist. You are all volunteers and patriots; however, I know you also wonder how the President’s initiative will affect your unit, your post, your family.
We do expect some additional U.S. Army Europe units to deploy as part of this initiative, and we will notify the units, families and communities affected as soon as the Secretary of Defense approves the deployment orders.
Because of the growth of the Army over the past five years and the responsible drawdown in Iraq, the Army will be able to execute this increase while ending stop-loss and continuing to provide units at least 12 months at home after every 12 months of deployment.
Assuming the drawdown in Iraq continues, we will also continue to make progress toward our goal of at least two years at home station for every year deployed. Even with the increased forces in Afghanistan ordered by the President, we estimate that more than two thirds of the active component will reach these goals within the next two years.
USAREUR Soldiers, families and civilians, like those everywhere, are experiencing the stress of repeated deployments. Over the past two years, more than one third of USAREUR forces were deployed at any given time.
Currently, elements of V Corps headquarters, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 5th Signal Command, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and others are deployed, while the 172nd Brigade and the 16th Sustainment Brigade have just returned. The 1st Armored Division headquarters, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, portions of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and others are preparing to deploy.
As the President noted, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America’s war, and our European Allies are engaged and are even increasing their own troop contributions. Recently, another continuing partnership between 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment and Romanian soldiers began training in Hohenfels for deployment to Afghanistan.
I share your concerns for our Army families. You have carried an enormous burden in this war, and I am committed to providing a level of care and support commensurate with your service and sacrifice.
Our Army has never failed to answer the nation’s call. The American people expect nothing less. They thank you, and I thank you.