JBLM 2nd Stryker brigade heads to Afghanistan

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) -- Nearly 4,000 soldiers attended a ceremony Friday on the parade ground at Joint Base Lewis-McChord marking their departure for Afghanistan.

Members of the 2nd Stryker Brigade will be deployed in waves over the next few weeks for a nine-month tour.

In a short speech, their commander, Col. Barry Huggins, told the soldiers, "First and foremost you are representatives of America." He said, "When we return, we will return with honor."

The ceremony concluded with the casing of the colors, the unit flag, which will be uncased in Afghanistan.

JBLM already has more than 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. Most are members of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, which started deploying in December.