Pat Donahue, Coastal Courier
The deployment of thousands of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers is under way, division commander Maj. Gen. Christopher Norrie said, and his departure date is coming soon.
Maj. Gen. Norrie told the Hinesville Rotary Club on Tuesday that he expects to leave for eastern Europe next weekend as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Division Artillery and the 3rd ID headquarters begin a nine-month mission.
“We’ve got flights moving out almost continuously,” he said.
The 3rd Infantry Division will take over from the 4th ID and is expected to assume its responsibility September 9.
Maj. Gen. Norrie pointed out that when the 1st Brigade was sent to Europe last year, only a few months after completing a rotation to South Korea, it did so faster than any armored brigade combat team in history.
“Within 10 days of being told to leave, they were firing live rounds through tanks on the ground in Germany,” he said. That’s 5,000 soldiers, millions of tons of American steel, organizing with one heartbeat. That exemplifies our ability to respond and convey a message of deterrence.”
During its nine-month deployment, the 2nd Brigade will be training with NATO partners to further deter Russian aggression in the region. Another of its tasks is to strengthen the NATO partnership, Maj. Gen. Norrie said.
“We remain resolute in this mission and we will be unyielding against any adversary,” he said.
When the 1st Brigade Combat Team was rushed to Eastern Europe in 2022, its troops flew to Germany and drew from pre-positioned stock. Now, since the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team is the Army’s most modern force and has the most up-to-date equipment, it is taking its newly-issued Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Paladin howitzers and other vehicles with them.
“It is the most modern armored brigade combat team in the Army,” Maj. Gen. Norrie said. “It’s always a big endeavor when you’re moving these large formations over.”
While most of the division will be overseas, the 1st Brigade Combat Team will begin its modernization, getting new Abrams, Bradleys, joint light tactical vehicles and the like.
“We are leading the U.S. Army into the modern era,” Maj. Gen. Norrie said.
The modern battlefield has new dangers, the commander pointed out, from drones to electromagnetic emissions to detect formations to cyber attacks.
“The world is presenting new problems around us,” he said. “We can afford to be a lot of things but the one thing we can never afford to be is naïve.”
While the division’s troops have been training in Fort Stewart’s subtropical summer climate, the conditions they face in eastern Europe will be far different, especially in the next few weeks.
Maj. Gen. Norrie said they are ready for the colder temperatures in which they will be operating.
“Dog-faced soldiers are all-weather,” he said. “This what we do. We adapt to the environment, we take care of each other, train hard and make sure we’re always ready.”
Maj. Gen. Norrie’s priorities are simple, he pointed out, citing them as warfighting, people and transformation.
“My sacred mission is to ensure that no soldier or unit ever goes untrained into combat,” he said.
The 3rd ID commander also harkened to the division’s history, beginning in 1917 and initially chronicled with Brig. Gen. Joseph Dickman’s comminque to his French allies – “Nous resterons la,” meaning “we will stay here.” It earned the division the moniker of “Rock of the Marne,” a nickname it carries today.
“This division has led the way,” Maj. Gen. Norrie said. “We’re the only heavy division of the XVIII Airborne Corps, America’s rapid reaction force. If you want to break another army, if you want to change the course of history, you send in an armored brigade combat team.”
His command of the 3rd ID is his first assignment at Fort Stewart but Maj. Gen. Norrie extolled the community’s longstanding and steadfast support of the division and its soldiers.
“There is no set of communities around any of our Army installations that is remotely like or as good as this community,” he said. “The support you have extended to our soldiers over the years it has left an indelible mark on the lives of all of our soldiers and family members.
“You’ve all rallied behind our soldiers,” Maj. Gen. Norrie continued. “The impact you have had on those soldiers and family members is immeasurable. It is a wonderful thing in the world to have a friend and there is no greater group of friends than you.”