4TH BCT commanders talk from Afghanistan

Lee Erwin Reporting

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. – The 4th Brigade Combat Team, “Currahee”, of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at Fort Campbell is half way through their current deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Wednesday, September 24, Colonel Val C. Keaveny, Commander of the 4th Brigade and Command Sergeant Major (CSM), Tony Grinston, held a video teleconference from Afghanistan with a mid-tour update on the work of the Currahee soldiers during their deployment.

The 4th Brigade has been in Afghanistan around 6 months and Colonel Keaveny started off by praising the Currahee soldiers and their partnership with Afghan forces. “Our soldier’s contribution over here has been absolutely phenomenal. They continue to help the Afghans gain capacity, confidence and operational reach every single day,” said Keaveny.

The Colonel talked about the soldiers training path which was one of the main reasons the soldiers can contribute the way they can. Keaveny called the training they received before deployment deliberate, detailed and tough and said the soldiers performed very well and their performance in training was now paying off.

CSM Grinston shared his pride in the Currahee soldiers. “I just wanted to say how extremely proud obviously I am of all the soldiers that are here and they are extremely proud of what they are doing. They’ve remained resilient, they have stayed true to the mission and they’ve done that through multiple changes,” Grinston said.

Grinston said it was amazing to see what the soldiers do every day and every American in the United States should be proud of what they do. Grinston also thanked the soldier’s families and said it was heartwarming when it came to all of the support people are showing through care packages and letters for the soldiers.

Talking about support for the soldiers of the 4th Brigade during their remaining deployment both Colonel Keaveny and CSM Grinston were very appreciative of everything that Fort Campbell and the communities surrounding Post have done for the Currahee soldiers.

“Fort Campbell and the local communities are a very, very special place. I’ve not seen another like it in my time in the Army and our families benefit from that. Knowing when we leave they are not alone. They’ve got the support of other families going through deployment and they’ve also got the support of the entire community,” said Keaveny.

Keaveny also recognized veteran’s organizations, church groups, local city councils and schools that have sent letters, cards and other items to the soldiers. The Colonel added that they are now in the process of changing the scope of their operation and reducing their footprint along with repositioning forces so they were not in need of a lot at this point when it came to supplies.

Talking more about the partnership between the 4th Brigade and Afghan security forces, Colonel Keaveny said the brigade arrived in Afghanistan right at the start of the fighting season. Shortly after the Currahee’s got there, knowing that the soldiers were at their side, the Afghans quickly gained confidence and in a few weeks the Afghan’s formally took over the lead on all operations.

“When we got here we were only able to participate in ten percent of the operations but over the last five months, every time the Afghans would do an operation, some insurgents or criminal groups or threats would be removed from the battlefield. They would gain confidence, they would develop more intelligence and they gained momentum,” said Keaveny.

Keaveny added that as the Afghans gained more momentum their number of operations climbed, the insurgents capability dropped and the level of involvement by 4th Brigade soldiers also dropped and now they are only part of about four percent of the operations taking place.

The Colonel emphasized the reason for the increased effort by the Afghan forces was the young soldiers of the 4th Brigade getting side by side with their Afghan counterparts and talking them through whatever help they needed. Keaneny also said that all Americans should be very proud of the hard work of the soldiers from Private through leadership and what they have accomplished.

When asked about public projects for the citizens of Afghanistan Colonel Keaveny said that Currahee soldiers have not done a single project while they have been deployed and through their own government Afghan leaders are taking care of all projects.

As they ended their video teleconference both 4th Brigade leaders once again highlighted the service of the Currahee soldiers. “They go over everyday to find a way to help the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to become more self sufficient and self sustaining. So even as they get more efficient, our soldiers are continuing to do great things everyday by finding a way to increase the ANSF capacity and it’s a great thing to watch,” said Grinston.

Colonel Keaveny added that what the Currahee soldiers are doing doesn’t just impact Afghan soldiers and Afghan police in the two provinces they serve in Afghanistan. Because of what the soldiers are doing a million Afghan citizens feel more secure, 174,000 females now go to school and the economy has quadrupled

“I remind our soldiers and I’d like our families to know as well, this time apart is making a difference. It is changing a lifestyle of a million people with 30 years of war and they want a better life. “I’m extraordinarily proud of our soldiers and their families. The families share a great burden while we’re gone and they’ve been doing a tremendous job taking care of themselves. They’ve been doing a great job of taking care of us,” Keaveny said.