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'Marne 7' details redeployment
3rd ID's CSM moving to Fort Gillem
Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews places a Marne patch on Cpl. Angel Padilla’s shoulder during the 3rd ID’s 92nd birthday and patch ceremony on Nov. 21 in Iraq. - photo by U.S. Army photo
Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, considered 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo’s right hand man, recently offered his take on the troops’ impending redeployment to Fort Stewart and the drawdown in Iraq.  Andrews spoke to the Courier by telephone Thursday from northern Iraq.
Andrews, also referred to as “Marne 7,” has served as the 3rd ID’s senior enlisted advisor for four years. He will leave Fort Stewart for Fort Gillem next month to start his new job as the senior enlisted advisor to Lt. Gen. Thomas Miller at First Army.
“Coming back right now, as we speak, to Fort Benning is the 3rd (Heavy Brigade Combat Team), 3rd ID,” Andrews said. The 3rd HBCT out of Benning worked for U.S. Division South, he said.
“Then the 2nd HCBT will start back next month en masse. Following in November will be the 1st Brigade, 3rd ID, working for U.S. Division Center near Baghdad,” he said.
A 3rd ID aviation brigade deployed to Afghanistan will return to the states in December, Andrews added.
Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton informed members of the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee in August the 3rd HBCT, Air Ambulance and 526th Engineers will redeploy this month.
Milton confirmed the 2nd HBCT, 3rd Cavalry and Division Headquarters will return in October and the 1st HBCT will redeploy in November. The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was the last 3rd ID brigade to deploy and will return home in July, he said.
Andrews said Army leaders and soldiers are looking forward to “a robust dwell time.”
“None of our brigades are on the fast track to redeploy to Operation New Dawn or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan,” he said, adding cautiously, “as long as nothing happens globally.”
The two-year down time should help military families “get completely unwound from these back-to-back deployments,” Marne 7 said.
Andrews has had four Iraq deployments since 2002 and was present during the surge in 2007-08. He described Operation New Dawn as “a seamless transition.”
“Even before we got here to relieve the 25th Infantry Division (Schofield Barracks, Hawaii), they really transitioned to more of an advise and assist role then (as operations were moved out of Iraqi cities in June 2009). We picked up that particular baton from the 25th and built on that.”
Andrews said Operation New Dawn’s mission of stability and support is simply a progression of advise and assist. U.S. troops are continuing to train and assist Iraqi security forces in “force protection and counter-insurgency” he said.
 Andrews said U.S. Division North troops have downsized from 12,000 soldiers in May to about 9,900 today.
“We now have two advise and assist brigades; we originally had four,” he said.
Andrews said it is the Iraqis’ turn to take the lead.
“We have 160,000 Peshmerga police as well as Iraqi Security Forces in U.S. Division North,” he said. “We have enough Iraqi security forces to maintain stability and to take advantage of the gains we’ve already made.”
Violence is down more than 90 percent from 2006 levels, and Iraqi deaths are down 33 percent, he said.
Andrews said the U.S. had about 29 patrol bases last year.
“We’re now down to eight as part of the reduction of forces,” he said. “Still, there’s no degradation in amount of support or assistance provided to our Iraqi partners.”
Andrews said apart from his pride in the strides the U.S. military has made in Iraq, he has mixed feelings about leaving the 3rd ID.
“Once a dogface soldier, always a dogface soldier,” he said.
Andrews will use his 30-plus years of Army experience to help train and equip active and reserve troops for “success on the battlefield” in his new role as senior enlisted advisor at First Army.
The command sergeant major also had nothing but praise for his boss.
“Any NCO in the Army, in the world today, would want a commanding general like Maj. Gen. Cucolo as their commanding general,” Andrews said.
Marne 7 said his commander “understands the non-commissioned officer corps” and empowers NCOs.
 “He’s got it. He knows what we do.”  If he had a choice, Andrews added, “This is the only guy I would want to work for.”
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