A soldier patrols near Baraki Barak base in Logar province in October. DoD announced the names of four brigades and a division headquarters that will deploy to Afghanistan next year. (Munir Uz Zaman/AFP via Getty Images)
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About 8,300 soldiers from four brigades and a division headquarters will deploy to Afghanistan this spring and summer as part of the regular rotation of forces, the Defense Department announced Friday.
The announcement comes as the U.S. is reducing its force there by half, and the Afghan National Security Forces take the lead in securing their country.
The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan is scheduled to end in December 2014, and President Obama has ordered a 34,000-troop drawdown by the end of February.
What remains to be seen, however, is whether the U.S. will keep forces in Afghanistan past December 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has yet to sign an agreement outlining a 10-year extension for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, even after a deal seemed to be finalized in November after the thorny issue of legal immunity for U.S. troops was resolved and a conference of Afghan tribal elders approved the draft agreement.
As of Dec. 13, there were about 42,700 troops in Afghanistan; about 30,000 of them are soldiers, according to information provided by DoD.
The units deploying this spring and summer are:
• 1st Cavalry Division headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas
About 350 soldiers from the headquarters are expected to deploy in June to southern Afghanistan to replace the 4th Infantry Division headquarters, of Fort Carson, Colo.
• 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
About 3,200 paratroopers from the brigade will deploy in March. They are scheduled to serve in southern Afghanistan, backfilling soldiers from 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, of Fort Hood.
• 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood
About 2,050 soldiers from the brigade are slated to deploy in July to southern Afghanistan. They are expected to replace soldiers from 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division, of Fort Drum, N.Y.
• 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
About 1,700 soldiers from the newly stood up CAB will deploy in May. They are expected to replace soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division’s CAB, of Fort Riley, Kan., in southern Afghanistan.
• 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Ansbach, Germany
About 1,000 soldiers from the CAB are scheduled to deploy in June. They are scheduled to replace soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division’s CAB, of Fort Hood, in northern Afghanistan.
What remains unclear is how long these soldiers will be in country. Division headquarters typically serve 12-month tours, and brigades serve nine-month deployments, but it’s expected that these soldiers’ deployments will be dependent on whether U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after December 2014.