1,500 1st AD soldiers move from Kuwait to Iraq's volatile Anbar province
May 31, 2006
Two battalion task forces from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division have been called up from Kuwait and deployed to violence-wracked areas in Iraq’s western Anbar province, U.S. military officials confirmed Tuesday.
The Germany-based troops had been in Kuwait since November serving as a “call forward” reserve force. A third battalion from the brigade — the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment — already had been called into Baghdad in March.
Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, ordered the move of 1,500 of the remaining 2nd Brigade troops into the province after consulting last week with Iraqi government and military representatives, officials said.
“Gen. Casey, in counsel with the government of Iraq, has called elements of 2/1 into Anbar province,” Maj. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman with Multi-National Corps-Iraq, said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “Repositioning of the call forward force will assist in reestablishing the conditions necessary to enable effective local and provincial governance and provides additional security for the people of Anbar province.”
The deployment was called a “short-term” move that “will make a long term contribution to Iraq’s security well-being and political process.”
“Each task force is a flexible combined arms force equipped to operate across the spectrum of operations, from conducting security tasks to engaging in combat operations,” a U.S. military news release read. “This includes integral armor, mechanized infantry and engineer support.”
But the fact that only about half of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team will deploy caused some confusion in Baumholder, Germany, where the brigade is based.
Shopping with friend Tracy Powell, Jeanne Santiago said she was waiting for her husband — a sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade — to come home on R&R, and didn’t know about the decision.
“I’m in shock,” Garcia said.
It’s possible Garcia’s husband is still on his way home, as just which units are going north is unclear.
Officials from 1st AD and the command in Iraq did not respond by deadline Tuesday to questions about which units had been sent to Iraq.
“We had heard rumors” about the move, said Tracie Powell, whose husband, Sgt. Timothy Powell, is a medic already in Iraq with the 47th Forward Support Battalion.
Stars and Stripes talked to more than 10 spouses from different battalions, two of whom confirmed they were notified through their family readiness group (FRG) about the move to Iraq. Several spouses confirmed that 2nd Brigade rear-detachment commander, Maj. Jeanine M. White, sent out an e-mail to affected FRG commanders after the troop movement was complete.
The move had Powell and Ortiz concerned about what the new mission means over the long term.
“My question is, does the [365-day deployment] start when they get to Iraq, or from the time they got to Kuwait?” Powell said.
At this point, orders went into effect when soldiers left Baumholder and landed in Kuwait, according to officials at 1st AD headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany. However, if deemed necessary, the Army could change those orders so that the deployment begins in Iraq, as was the case with the 3rd Infantry Division at the beginning of the war, according to a Pentagon official.
The transfer of the brigade to Iraq means that many soldiers and officers are on their second and even third war-zone deployments.
Powell’s husband is on his third deployment since 2003, with the couple spending little time together since, she said. They married Dec. 2, 2004, six days before Timothy Powell deployed for six months with the 82nd Airborne Division, she said. After he re-enlisted on his return, her husband deployed to Kuwait last November with the 2nd BCT, only a month after the couple arrived in Germany.
Santiago, a former soldier, said she had been stationed at Fort Meade, Md., while her husband was at Fort Hood with the 1st Cavalry Division, and they only had a brief time together before he deployed last November.
Santiago and Powell called each other their main sources of support.
“You’re keeping me strong,” Powell said, as Santiago became emotional.