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“Dagger Brigade” is finally heading back to Iraq.

After months of speculation, U.S. Army Europe announced Sunday evening that the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Schweinfurt, Germany, will deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the next few weeks.

“I know that both our soldiers and our families have shouldered a heavy burden of anticipation as we have waited for a final word on this brigade combat team’s deployment. That word is here, and I know that we are fully ready ... ,” Col. J.B. Burton, brigade commander, said in a 2nd CBT Web site message to his troops posted Sunday.

Both 2nd Brigade and 1st Armored Division officials did not respond to queries Monday to discuss the deployment, saying they were awaiting approval from higher commands to speak to the media. Soldiers also said they were not allowed to speak to the media.

With the departure of 1st Infantry Division’s headquarters earlier this month, the brigade combat team now falls under the command and control of 1st AD.

The brigade originally received notification of possible May deployment in November 2005. That date was postponed by the Pentagon, leaving the unit’s 4,000 soldiers and their families in limbo.

While they awaited word, the brigade continued to prepare for deployment, performing mission rehearsal and readiness exercises. Members of the brigade even took time out of their schedules to educate students at Schweinfurt’s elementary and middle schools about what deployment means to them, their parents and loved ones.

Over the next few weeks, the brigade will deploy a battalion task force and other select personnel, with the remainder of the unit following shortly thereafter, Burton stated in the Web message, adding that specific dates and destinations are being withheld for force protection/security reasons.

The brigade is completing a recertification gunnery exercise in Grafenwöhr, Germany, and the various units within the brigade will begin deploying over the next few weeks to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, according to the USAREUR release.

This is the second deployment in Iraq for the brigade, which deployed in 2004 with other elements of 1st ID under Texas’ III Corps/Multi-National Corps-Iraq. During the upcoming tour, the unit will fall under the leadership of 1st Armored Division.

At Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt on Monday, 2nd Brigade spouses were mellow in their reaction to the latest deployment news.

Michelle Gonzalez, whose husband is in the brigade, said that all the delays hadn’t really affected her plans to go to California during her husband’s deployment. His next assignment will be in the States anyway, she said.

“Wherever he goes, I’ll go,” Gonzalez said.

However, Gonzalez said she had heard of various soldiers and their families having problems with the deployment schedule and a stop-loss order that was put into effect for the brigade earlier this year.

“I know one lady sent her son home with her parents,” Gonzalez said. “She’s a single soldier, and now she’s without her son.”

Sitting outside the post exchange with her 2-year-old daughter, Naomi, Jamie Hurta also said her husband’s deployment wasn’t affecting their plans — she was always planning to stay in Germany — but she knew of people in the brigade community who were not so fortunate.

One family already had their belongings mailed to the States before the stop-loss was announced, Hurta said.

“It’s not affecting us,” she said, “but it’s hard helping those affected.”

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