Hawaii soldiers prepare for Afghan duty
Approximately 200 Hawai'i soldiers stood in formation today at Helemano Military Reservation in Wahiawa in a deployment ceremony as they prepare for a year of duty in Afghanistan.
This is the 307th Integrated Theater Signal Battalion's first combat deployment since the Vietnam War. The unit provides satellite and other communications.
The 307th was notified in February that its Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Bravo Company would be deploying in June as part of the surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, officials said.
The total number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is expected to reach 100,000 this summer. The Pentagon said for the first time, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has surpassed the total in Iraq, ABC News reported.
There are now 94,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and 92,000 in Iraq.
The 307th was ordered to deploy as an "expeditionary" signal battalion, a change that normally takes 18 months, the unit said. The 307th soldiers had about 90 training days to transform and be validated as a mission-ready force.
The Hawai'i soldiers will be at bases in northern and southern Afghanistan, officials said.
"Stay alert, stay alive. That's the motto," said Pfc. Jason Henson, 24, who is making his first combat deployment. The satellite and radio technician from Gulfport, Miss. has been in the Army for about a year.