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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | Sept. 8, 2010

116th to return to Iraq for start of new mission

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell, National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., - About 2,700 Army National Guard members from Idaho, Montana and Oregon assigned to the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team are preparing to deploy later this year in support of Operation New Dawn.

Army Col. Guy Thomas, the 116th CBCT commander, said this mission will be different than their 2004-2005 deployment to Iraq.

“The last deployment was as a full spectrum combat brigade,” he said. “We conducted combat operations and were the ones conducting the mission.

“This time we will find ourselves doing mainly forward operating base security or convoy security with the Iraqi army and police force,” he said.

The brigade consists of about 1,500 Soldiers from Idaho and about 600 soldiers each from Oregon and Montana. It will spend two months in Camp Shelby, Mississippi starting later this month before deploying to Iraq for 10 months.

The 116th’s Command Sgt. Maj. Steve Woodall said the brigade is prepared for this new mission in Iraq, which is intended to bring about Iraqi independence.

“We lead last time. We were the combat forces that went in and during that deployment we started to train the Iraqi army and police forces,” he said. “This time it’s five years later, the Iraqi police force has been trained, the Iraqi army has been trained so they’re taking the lead … we are assisting and advising.”

Thomas also said he believes in his Soldiers’ readiness for this deployment.

“They are going to do a super job with the mission that they’ve got,” he said. “They are really enthused about it, wanting to get on with it.

“They have been very aggressive in their training and they’ve worked very hard.”

Thomas said one of the factors making the preparation for this deployment smoother is their past experience combined with the support of the local communities.

“We had great support during the last deployment, but with the knowledge of the last deployment, the support we are gaining for the employers and the local communities has been great,” he said. “They have stepped up to the plate supporting our soldiers, and they are letting them know how much they mean they’ll be missed, it’s been very refreshing.”