As rain began to fall Thursday evening, more than 100 soldiers from the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion boarded a bus at the Fort Gordon army base for the first leg of their deployment to Afghanistan.
The 202nd, a part of the larger 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, mobilized quickly after receiving orders for the deployment a few months ago, according to Col. Laurence Mixon, the brigade's commander. That's much faster than the typical 12-18 months notice that a unit typically gets, he said, although the battalion is specially trained for rapid deployment to hostile territory. The battalion will interrogate detainees there.
Mixon wouldn't give a specific reason for the quick deployment, but fighting has intensified in Afghanistan this year -- the deadliest since the war began in 2001.
"I'm not going to say that it relates directly to that," said Mixon. "It's just that we're refining our business practice so to speak and we've seen fit to establish a more capable interrogation facility in Afghanistan."
Kurt Robinson and his wife, Sgt. Barbara Robinson, cried and hugged each other during their last hour together.
"She's a soldier. She's a strong soldier. She carried on where I left off at," said Mr. Robinson, a military veteran himself. Robinson joked about how he and his wife, who have young children, flipped a coin to decide who would remain in the military. "She won."
This is the 202nd's fourth deployment to either Afghanistan or Iraq since 2001.
Sixteen troops stationed at Georgia military bases have died in Afghanistan this year, more than all previous years of the war combined.