Troops will take advisory roles in Baghdad, Anbar province
December 13, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany — With a backdrop of traditional Army band music and Christmas songs playing on a chilly Friday evening at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, the 1st Armored Division headquarters cased their colors in a ceremony to mark their upcoming deployment to Iraq.
Around 900 1st AD headquarters soldiers are scheduled to replace approximately 1,200 1st Cavalry Division troops shortly after Christmas as the 1st AD takes over an advisory role in Baghdad and the western province of Anbar, a former hotbed of insurgency traditionally under the jurisdiction of the Marines.
Approximately 3,800 soldiers from a subordinate brigade will be replacing around 13,000 Marines in Anbar province, 1st AD deputy commander Brig. Gen. Ken Tovo said at a training exercise in October.
Although the division is no stranger to the complexities of Iraq, having returned last December from a 15-month deployment to northern Iraq, it will be deploying with a 100 percent leadership changeover and a new set of troops and staff.
“Five or six years ago, take an organization, shuffle it up like that and try to get ready within a year to go back to war would’ve been a bridge too far, but today because of the depth of soldiers and noncommissioned officers, we can do that,” said Brig. Gen. Ralph Baker, a deputy commander of 1st AD.
The division’s mission in Baghdad and Anbar will be primarily an advisory and training role, as Iraqis are now in the lead in pretty much all aspects as U.S. troops are preparing to withdraw from the country.
“I feel pretty honored to be a part of the final chapter in Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. I Cha.
The division’s top leader stressed that the U.S. approach will not change despite Tuesday’s violence in Baghdad, where a series of suicide bombings killed 127 people and injured more than 500. “It’s not going to affect our game plan,” 1st AD commander Maj. Gen. Terry A. Wolff said.
After the ceremony, the gathered crowd of adults and children watched the lighting of the airfield’s Christmas tree.