101st Airborne ends year-long tour in northern Iraq
After a year in which it nearly doubled the territory under its command, oversaw Iraqi elections and helped push Iraqi forces into the security lead, the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division on Wednesday handed over responsibility for northern Iraq to the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, officials said.
On Nov. 1, 2005, the 101st Airborne had assumed responsibility for a command, then called Multinational Division-North Central. A month later, the territory was expanded to include the northwest area of Iraq.
During its year in Iraq, the 101st closed or handed back to the Iraqi government 10 bases. Over the year, it helped train and equip the 4th and 5th Iraqi army divisions, which now have the “lead” for security operations, although they are still backed up by U.S. troops.
This will be the second stint in Iraq for the 25th Infantry Division, known as Tropic Lightning and based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Some 7,500 soldiers from the division will be in Iraq, under the command of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who will also command troops from the 2nd Infantry, 1st Cavalry and 82nd Airborne divisions.
A 25th Infantry soldier was killed Sept. 6 in Iraq, the first of this deployment, officials said. In 2004, when the division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team was assigned to the area around Kirkuk, the unit suffered 13 casualties.