May 30, 2011

29th Infantry Division prepares for Afghanistan deployment

By Maj. Wes Parmer
29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division from Virginia and Maryland completed their two-week pre-mobilization training May 23 in order to prepare for a fall deployment to Afghanistan. The 72-person team is scheduled to replace the current group of 29th ID Soldiers who are now deployed to Afghanistan in support of the International Security Assistance Force-Security Partnering mission. This will mark the second year of a two-year requirement being filled by the 29th ID in support of the mission.

29th ID Soldiers perform first aid during Combat Lifesaver Training May 21 while completing their Afghanistan pre-mobilization training at Fort Pickett, Va. (Photo by Maj. Wes Parmer, 29th ID Public Affairs)

“The overarching goal is to facilitate and measure the progress of fielded forces against established objectives,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Whittington, Jr., 29 ID deputy commanding general. "As such, the mission puts our team members in direct coordination with both institutional and operational enablers.”

Comprised of officers and non-commissioned officers, the group will be working alongside other NATO personnel supporting the training of Afghan army and police forces.

Training began with basic combat skills such as marksmanship with the M-4 rifle and M-9 pistol during day and night firing conditions and while donning the chemical protective mask, combat lifesaver certification and tactical movement techniques.  Soldiers also received in-depth cultural and language familiarization to further prepare them to work alongside Afghan forces.

Col. Marie Mahoney prepares for M-9 live-fire while donning her chemical protective mask May 18 at Fort Pickett, Va. (Photo by Maj. Wes Parmer, 29th ID Public Affairs)

“Perhaps the most critical aspect of being successful there is building effective relationships with the Afghan people,” said Maj. John Moses. “In order to do that we must understand their culture and traditions.”

Additional training tasks completed include convoy operations, land navigation and the Infantry Platoon Battle Course, where squad sized elements practiced movement-to-contact techniques while integrating Army Warrior Tasks such as employing grenades and moving under direct fire.

Aspects of the combat lifesaver training were incorporated into multiple training activities, which culminated in a certification lane where all Soldiers were tested on their knowledge of critical life-saving techniques to be used on the battlefield.

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