Fort Hood (March 1, 2014) More than 200 soldiers from Fort Hood's 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment returned home Saturday to their families after a deployment in Afghanistan.
According to Fort Hood officials the soldiers returned home early after nine months because of security gains made by the Afghan security forces.
The focus for the Red Dragons on this deployment was to secure Bagram Airfield, which is the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.
While on assignment in Afghanistan Rachel Cox and KBTX's Steve Fullhart sat down with Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Phil Brooks.
Brooks said gaining the trust of the Afghan people was key in accomplishing this task.
"It's like moving into any new community. You have to establish that trust in your neighbor and, frankly, as the Afghan police have taken charge of the security here, it's even more important," Brooks said.
On Saturday Brooks said he was pleased with the progress the Afghan police force had made while he was there.
"I had a good transition with the person that's replacing me and i'm very confident in advanced leadership as are the people above me," Brooks said. "They're capable of policing in the Bagram area where we were, they're just capable of policing and only give us a call when they need us."
To do this, Brooks says he works with a team of interpreters from the area who often go out to villages with him and other soldiers on patrols.
Soldiers under his command helped with the effort by taking part in patrols outside the wire.
"Right now, we're providing security for this base, and we all patrol the nearby villages right outside, and we do training with the Jordanians," Capt. John Dye said.
On Saturday as the mission for the Red Dragons came to an end many said they were relieved to be back with their families.
"I've done this once before but it's just as exciting the second time and coming home to the U.S. and to my hometown, coming home to Texas there's nothing better," Dye said.
"This will be the fourth time that I've walked across this field and it just gets better every time," Brooks said.
Another group of soldiers will return to Fort Hood Sunday, there will be more than 300 soldiers at that ceremony.