Editor's note: It appears Fort Stewart soldiers will be headed back overseas as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom beginning in September, according to the following press release issued Thursday.
FORT STEWART, Ga. (July 16, 2009)– Units from the 3rd Infantry Division stationed at Fort Stewart and Kelley Hill at Fort Benning were included Tuesday in a Department of Defense announcement naming the next group of units to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Named in the release are the Division Special Troops Battalion “Legion”, the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team “Raiders”, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team “Spartans”, and 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team “Sledgehammer” from 3rd Infantry Division. The deployment window for these units begins this September and continues into early 2010. This announcement was not a surprise to the Soldiers or Families of the units named, and all units have been preparing for these deployments.
The 3rd Infantry Division, "The Rock of the Marne," has deployed more times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) than any other unit in the Army. From the outset of the conflict, Marne Soldiers have been on the leading edge of accomplishing this important mission.
In the first phase of OIF, the Marne division spearheaded the invasion of Iraq, making a name for itself through a series of audacious maneuvers into Baghdad, termed “Thunder Runs”. These attacks into the heart of a dangerous regime ruled by Saddam Hussein led to the eventual capture of the city and the fall of that regime only several weeks into the conflict.
Subsequent deployments in 2005 to the central part of Iraq, and in 2007 as part of the surge, brought additional notoriety and experience to the unit as each brigade and the Division Headquarters executed their missions professionally though more often than not separately as the Army shifted to modular organizations.
With years of experience behind this force of battle-hardened warriors, the Division Headquarters and these three brigade combat teams stand ready to deploy to various parts of Iraq where their hard-won experiences will help them bring further peace and stability to the Iraqi people.
The Legion battalion and the Division Headquarters will make up the task force headquarters for Multi-National Division-North. Upon arrival, they will form Task Force Marne which will consist of the Spartan Brigade, plus four more maneuver brigades from across the Army. These units with be joining the task force from Ft. Bliss, Tx., Ft. Lewis, Wa., Ft. Riley, Ks., and Schofield Barracks, Hi.
The brigades will all be serving as “Advisory and Assistance Brigades”. The advisory and assistance brigades will replace units currently on the ground in Iraq. The mission of these units will be to train and partner with Iraqi Security Forces, conduct coordinated counter-terrorism operations, and protect current civilian and military efforts within Iraq. The advisory and assistance mission reflects the changing role of U.S. Army forces serving in Iraq.
While this deployment order announcement affects Soldiers, it must also be recognized that behind every Soldier is a Family Member back home. During this 12-month deployment, Families, loved ones, and local communities will be actively staying in contact with the units through vibrant Family Readiness Groups, a robust social networking capability and a variety of supporting community activities.
It is with the love and support of these Families and the Fort Stewart and Fort Benning communities that our Soldiers can continue to deploy and conduct this vital mission in such an admirable fashion.
The Department of Defense release can be accessed by visiting: http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/