VICE News

Here's how soldiers prepare for nine months in Afghanistan

VICE News joined the 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Georgia, as a new generation of soldiers deploys to Afghanistan.

by Harriet Dedman and Belle Cushing
Nov 1 2017, 7:54am

Defense Secretary James Mattis went to Capitol Hill on Monday to ask for an extension of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, a law that dates back to shortly after 9/11, which authorized the president to deploy the U.S. military to combat terror organizations without asking for permission from Congress.

This fall more than 4,000 more U.S. troops will be deploying to Afghanistan, a conflict authorized by the law and now in its 17th year. The U.S. already has around 8,500 troops on the ground in the region, but this new effort is a bid to boost a combat force tasked with destroying the Taliban, which has been gaining ground against Afghan government forces.

Members of Fort Stewart's 3rd Infantry Division, Sustainment Brigade, board buses to Hunter Army Airfield on Wednesday October 18, deploying to Afghanistan for a nine month tour. Captain Dexter Harris pictured far left. Harriet Dedman/VICE News.

VICE News joined the 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Georgia, as a new generation of soldiers deployed for Afghanistan.

For many troops flying out, this is their first deployment overseas, and their first in a theater of war.

Read: U.S. troops will face deadliest Taliban yet

Close to 400 members of Fort Stewart's 3rd Infantry Division board their chartered flight to Kuwait in the early hours of Thursday October 19, they will then transfer into Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield on a C-130 military transporter. Harriet Dedman/VICE News

 

U.S. troops wait for nearly two hours in the deployment terminal of Hunter Army Airfield, after being processed from their main home in Fort Stewart, Georgia, to the military air base on the outskirts of Savannah. Harriet Dedman/VICE News.

 

Volunteers from the United Service Organization (the USO), and veterans of Vietnam, wave off the troops with flags and cheers. For many of those flying out, this is their first deployment overseas, and their first in a theater of war. Harriet Dedman/VICE News

Watch the bonus clip below to see what it was like on the bus ride to Hunter Army Airfield.

Read: Afghanistan keeps losing territory to the Taliban 

These video segments originally aired Oct. 30, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.