W&L Alum Leading Afghan Surge
On the final day of his four-day visit to the United States last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Fort Campbell, Ky., where one of the people he met was Col. Arthur Kandarian, a 1986 Washington and Lee graduate who commands the U.S. Army brigade that will lead the coming U.S.-led offensive in Kandahar.
Art commands the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, which is one of the most prestigious and decorated divisions in the U.S. Army. The so-called Screaming Eagles were first activated in 1921 and, during World War II, parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team is known as the “Strike Brigade,” and Art took over its command in March 2009. He had previously earned a Silver Star in Iraq.
A Wall Street Journal story on May 5 described the plans for the brigade’s deployment, quoting Art as saying “It’s not a bumper sticker. The mission is to secure the people of Kandahar.” The Journal story goes on to describe how, as part of the battalion’s preparations to go to Afghanistan, Art invited four World War II veterans to address his soldiers, noting that many of the battalion’s members had never met anyone who fought in the conflict.
Initially, the brigade was planning to deploy in an advisory capacity to Iraq, but changed its focus halfway through its dwell period, the time units have between deployments. It now finds itself on the road to Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, currently the hotbed of insurgent activity and the focus of the fight there.