‘Having a quiet dinner with the boss lady’

Spartan leaders plan for return home


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Col. Morris Goins

Star file photo

After 10 months spent giving orders to 3,500 soldiers, Col. Morris Goins knows exactly how he’ll spend his first night home.

“Having a quiet dinner with the boss lady is what I plan to do,” said Goins, the commander of the Army’s 4th Brigade Combad Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Goins and the 3,500-soldier “Spartan” brigade have been serving in eastern Afghanistan since November. The brigade’s deployment is ending soon, and several plane loads of soldiers have already returned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Another plane load of 300 was scheduled to arrive today (Sept. 27), with the rest of the troops set to return by the end of October.

During a teleconference from the front lines on Tuesday, Sept. 25, Goins said he can’t wait for the peace and quiet of home. When he returned to Alaska on leave earlier this year, Goins said his wife, Yolanda, asked what he’d like to for fun.

“I said, ‘Honestly, I’d just like to sit down and hold your hand and sit with you for a minute,” he said.

Families of deployed soldiers have been anxiously waiting for their loved ones to return for nearly a year, and Goins commended those who have kept the home fires burning stateside.

“While soldiers do what soldiers do, they are only as good as the support they have at home,” he said. “…We truly do want to tell them thank you for all the heartaches, lonely nights and worries they put up with.”

During its deployment, the Spartan brigade has been tasked with preparing the Afghan Army to operate on its own and to take over the mission of training its own people. Goins said that mission has gone well, with the Afghan Army taking on more responsibilites each day.

“It’s now Afghans training Afghans,” he said.

Goins also said the brigade has made great strides in neutralizing the dangerous networks of tribal fighters still operating in the Patkya Province where the brigade has been stationed.

“We have been able to detain a lot of bad people that are against the role of the government,” he said.

Now that the brigade is returning home, Col. Goins said his focus will turn to making sure the redeployment goes smoothly. Aside from making sure all the Army’s gear is accounted for, there’s also administrative and other paperwork that must be done. But that’s secondary, Goins said, to making sure the families of troops are kept well informed as the redeployment process ramps up.

“We try to make sure families are kept up-to-date,” he said.

When the soldiers return, Goins said they’ll have a few days off before transitioning back into the “9-to-5” grind of working back at JBER. He said the Army has several ways — from organized retreats to counseling — to help make that transition a smooth one.

“We have some pretty decent procedures in place,” he said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gardner also participated in the conference call. Gardner summed up the soldier’s experience returning home by saying he, too, is looking forward to some true rest and relaxation in Alaska.

“When you hear airplanes flying and helicopters off shooting early in the morning waking you up, you don’t miss those things,” Gardner said.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com.

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