In the space of a couple years, the paratroopers of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division have gone from making plans to inactivate the brigade to preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan. 

About 1,500 soldiers from the unit based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, will deploy in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel later this year, according to a Friday release from the Army. 

"These soldiers train rigorously in a wide range of climates and environments," Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, commander of U.S. Army Alaska, said in the release. "I am fully confident in their ability to excel and overcome any challenges they will face during this deployment."  

It's a complete turnaround from the Army's previous plan to inactivate the brigade, which evolved last year into cutting its size down from 4,000 to 1,050 soldiers to serve as an airborne task force. 

The cuts came in the face of tight budgets, but because of this year's National Defense Authorization Act, the Army has halted drawdown efforts in its push to get to 476,000 active soldiers by October.

"A final decision to retain 4/25 as a full brigade combat team after its deployment is dependent on receiving an appropriation from Congress commensurate with the increased end strength outlined in the NDAA," according to the release.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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