Tuesday, December 14, 2004

And Now For Some Good News From The Army...

After yesterday's rant, that incidentally left me feeling queezy and disloyal, I have some news that hits close to home. Two battalions from my old Regiment, the 325th AIR is now back in Iraq.

Break some heads and take care of each other guys! LET'S GO!!!

No Combat Jump, But 82nd Airborne Back in Iraq
Airborne troops return, ready to face a new mission, a new enemy and new challenges.

By U.S. Army Pfc. Mike Pryor
82nd Airborne Division
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 13, 2004 — When Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003, the 82nd Airborne Division was there. Now, almost two years later, with a new mission, a new enemy, and new challenges to face, the 82nd is back in Iraq and ready for action.

More than 1,500 paratroopers from two battalions of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, the 82nd's Division-Ready Brigade, and other slice elements began deploying to Iraq from Fort Bragg, N.C. on Dec. 3, only days after receiving a deployment order. The first paratroopers arrived at Baghdad International Airport on Dec. 4.

The 82nd's mission in Iraq is to augment U.S. Army forces providing security for the country's upcoming democratic elections. The 3rd Battalion is attached to the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The 2nd Battalion is attached to the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Historically, the 82nd's mission has been to deploy rapidly, seize enemy territory by parachute assault, fight and win. While its current mission in Iraq is different, the division's paratroopers are up for any challenge, said Lt. Col. Thomas Hiebert, commander of 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

"(The Army) expects its leaders to be able to execute all sorts of missions from offensive combat operations, to stability and support, to security operations. And I don't know anybody better qualified to do that than our paratroopers," Hiebert said.

"They understand their significance in the greater scheme of things. They know darn well why they're here. And they are completely, totally, without a doubt, ready for anything," he said.

The paratroopers of 3rd Battalion, the majority of who are combat veterans, said their commander's confidence wasn't misplaced.

"All our leaders are seasoned guys, and I know they're going to take care of their men. Whatever the mission is, I know we're going to get it done," said Staff Sgt. Jereme Ayers, a squad leader with 3rd Battalion’s Company A. He served with the 325th during its previous year-long deployment to Iraq from February 2003 to February 2004.

This will be the first combat experience for some of the battalion's younger paratroopers. Most expressed enthusiasm at the chance to serve.

"I feel like I'm actually doing what I'm supposed to be doing now. I'm glad to help out my country," said Pfc. Max Anduze, of Headquarters Company.

Not every paratrooper had such philosophical reasons for their excitement.

"I'm happy to be here - I need the money,” said Spc. Phillip Freeman from Company B, 307th Engineer Battalion. “I hope we stay for a year so I can refill my bank account."

Whatever their reasons for coming, some 1st Cavalry Division soldiers are just glad the 82nd's paratroopers are here now.

"We're all definitely glad to have the eighty-deuce here," said Capt. Patrick Blankenship, logistics officer with the First Team’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team. "They're the All-Americans."