BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN — Commanders with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade based at Fort Bragg say their troops are playing a key role in laying the ground work for Afghanistan to take over its own security by 2014.
The country's mountainous terrain makes aviation essential to transporting troops and supplies, and that's an integral part of the 82nd CAB's mission during their one-year deployment, Col. T.J. Jamison said. The brigade's 2,000 deployed soldiers will remain in Afghanistan until fall 2012.
"There are many outposts that are only accessible by rotary ring aviation," Jamison said.
That's why when President Barack Obama's planned troop withdrawal starts in 2014, Jamison and Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Farmer say they expect aviation brigades will be the last to leave.
"You (will) have fewer forces here that still must influence the same amount of geographical terrain, which requires aviation to push even harder," Jamison said.
Farmer said that combat outposts near the Pakistani border are especially difficult for troops to get to on foot.
"You need aviation to get out to those (combat outposts) that are out there in the middle of nowhere," he said.
In other words, the demand for aviation is likely to increase as the total number of troops decreases.
"I think as you draw down the ground element, the appetite and the requirement for aviation is going to increase," Jamison said.