The 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard is training at Fort Stewart in preparation for a January deployment to Afghanistan, the brigade‘s fourth combat tour since Sept. 11, 2001.
Georgia Guard units across the state have been holding departure ceremonies for their hometown units and a brigade-level sendoff is planned at Fort Stewart Friday. Soldiers will then get a few days of leave before departing for Afghanistan.
Capt. Daniel Larson, commander of B Battery of the 118th Field Artillery battalion, and his soldiers were practicing with cannon being delivered to a drop zone by Chinook helicopters last week. One hour and 10 minutes after the howitzers touched down the unit, including the towed guns, was rolling to its next assignment.
Larson said the pre-deployment training was important because once on the ground for a deployment, “You never know how it’s going to go until you get there.” The assignment to Afghanistan will be the captain’s third.
Larson said that when the civilian soldiers of the National Guard move into the active duty Army, “A lot of transitions is required and it makes us stronger and more effective when we complete it.”
The nine-month deployment will separate soldiers from their families, but the camaraderie among troops helps make up for that, “The closeness of the brigade family,” he said, “is unlike anything in the world.”
Charles Kelly, a staff sergeant in the 118th, agreed. “The unit is like a second family,” Kelly said. He said military service is in his blood; he has a brother in the 118th and other family members serve in the military.
The brigade has had a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and is making use of Fort Stewart’s gunnery ranges and other facilities.
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