After 19 years in Darmstadt, intel battalion inactivates
Stars and Stripes August 26, 2006
DARMSTADT, Germany — The 165th Military Intelligence Battalion held an inactivation ceremony Friday, seven months after most of the unit returned from its second yearlong war tour in three years.
One of the unit’s three companies is still engaged in Iraq, but will inactivate soon after it returns later this year.
When the bulk of the 165th returned from Afghanistan in February, the unit already knew its days were numbered. Not including the company in Iraq, the unit numbered nearly 300 in February. Soldiers have since trickled out, and fewer than 60 remain.
“All my friends left a long time ago,” said Spc. Manessa Johnson, 21, from Newcomb, N.M.
She spent two years with the 165th and deployed with the unit to Afghanistan. She liked the unit, but with her friends gone, she’s ready to move on to her next assignment at Fort Stewart, Ga., she said.
Col. Mark R. Quantock, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which is deployed to Iraq, sent a statement to be read to the remaining 165th soldiers. The 165th is part of the 205th.
“Trust me when I tell you, given where I am and where you are, I envy you,” said Quantock’s statement, which was read by Col. Todd A. Megill, commander of the 66th Military Intelligence Group.
Because of deployments to separate wars, Quantock never actually saw the 165th, even though he commanded its parent unit. His statement asserted the obvious: “These are strange times.”
After acknowledging the high demand for military intelligence troops in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Gary Johnston, commander of the 165th, suggested that changing the hearts and minds of America’s enemies, which is part of the military intelligence community’s job, would likely take decades.
“Bottom line, we have job security,” Johnston said.
The 165th spent its last 19 years in Darmstadt, and deployed to conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In February 2003, the battalion began a yearlong stint in the Middle East as a lead element in the U.S.-led war in Iraq. For that deployment, the 165th earned a meritorious unit citation.
A year after it got back from Iraq, the 165th deployed again, this time to Afghanistan.
The 165th has, over the years, been inactivated two other times — once in 1958, and again in 1983. Friday’s inactivation, unlike a deactivation, leaves open the possibility that the unit could return to service.