At the height of the Cold War, the U. S. Army recognized the need for highly-trained light infantry able to respond rapidly to contingencies worldwide. It reestablished the 7th Infantry and 10th Mountain Divisions as light infantry divisions to accomplish this task and established the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division “Commandos” on October 7, 1985 at Fort Benning, Georgia as part of this effort. 2nd Brigade trained at Fort Benning for three years before relocating the Fort Drum, New York in January 1989. Since its arrival at Fort Drum, 2nd Brigade earned the title of most-deployed brigade in the Army by deploying forces to nearly every major contingency, from disaster relief in the United States to combat operations across the globe.
2nd Brigade’s first deployment was to support relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. 2nd Brigade deployed its headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry and 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry to support disaster relief throughout southern Florida. Less than two months after returning from Florida, the brigade deployed to Somalia in support of Operations Restore Hope and Continue Hope. The brigade executed combat operations throughout Somalia that enabled the successful delivery of humanitarian assistance, ending Somalia’s famine. In addition, the brigade supported operations designed to neutralize Somali warlords, including the raid against Mohamed Farrah Aidid that became known as the Battle of Mogadishu. During the battle, the Commandos helped to relieve U. S. Army Rangers and other special operations forces that had been surrounded by insurgent forces in the Somali capital.
2nd Brigade returned to Fort Drum in early 1994. Later that year, the brigade deployed again, this time to Haiti. In Haiti, the brigade participated in peacekeeping operations that created a safe and secure environment for democratic elections. The brigade remained in Haiti into early 1995, before returning home to Fort Drum.
In 1998, the brigade began a series of deployments to two peacekeeping operations, one in the Middle East and one in the Balkans. Throughout the late 1990s, 2nd Brigade deployed battalion task forces to the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Multinational Force and Observers, the peacekeeping force employed in the Sinai to enforce the peace established between Egypt and Israel in the Camp David Accords. In addition, the brigade deployed its headquarters and several battalion task forces to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Implementation and Stabilization Forces. In Bosnia, the Commando Brigade enforced the tenuous peace established by the Dayton Peace Accords and helped that country to repair the damage cause by its long and deadly civil war.
America’s response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 again saw the employment of the Commandos across the globe, as the brigade had been designed to be employed. Initially, the brigade deployed domestically to secure key infrastructure in the eastern United States. It later deployed forces to Uzbekistan, Kuwait, and Qatar to secure key military facilities overseas. The forces deployed to Uzbekistan, including the Brigade Headquarters and the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry deployed into Afghanistan and conducted the first conventional combat operations against the Taliban, including Operation Anaconda.
The brigade deployed again in early 2003, splitting its forces across three separate theaters of operation simultaneously, a feat yet to be repeated by any other active brigade in the U. S. Army. Commandos deployed to Iraq as part of the initial invasion, and 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry became the first conventional unit enter the Iraqi city of Mosul. Commandos deployed again to Afghanistan, where the Brigade Headquarters and elements of several battalions formed Coalition Joint Task Force Phoenix, the first conventional task force to execute security force assistance with the Afghan National Security Forces. Finally, Commandos deployed to the Horn of Africa to support special operations forces and to perform security force assistance with Djiboutian, Ethiopian, and Kenyan forces.
2nd Brigade deployed to Iraq for the second time in mid-2004. In Iraq, the brigade executed combat operations in Northwest Baghdad attached to the 1st Cavalry Division and detached forces to support other brigades across the city, including a brigade fighting insurgents in Sadr City. In Northwest, Baghdad, the Commandos secured several key roads and neighborhoods. In addition, the brigade enabled newly established Iraqi Security Forces to secure polling centers during Iraq’s elections in January 2005, the first free election held in the country since the 1950s.
The brigade returned to Iraq for a third time in late 2006, this time to the area southwest of Baghdad known as the “Triangle of Death.” There the brigade battled insurgents and international terrorists along the side of its Iraqi Security Force comrades in the area’s canals, along the banks of the Euphrates River, and through the cities of Mahmudiyah, Yusafiyah, and Lutafiyah.
The Commando Brigade’s fourth and final deployment to Iraq began in 2009, this time in southeastern Baghdad. This deployment saw the brigade executing security force assistance with Iraqi Security Forces prior to redeploying home as part of the final withdrawal of international forces from Iraq in 2010.
Most recently, 2nd Brigade completed its third deployment to Afghanistan in October 2013. During this deployment, the brigade assisted Afghan National Security Forces across Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan. The brigade supported combat operations throughout the province and employed more artillery and close air support than any other brigade, enabling its Afghan counterparts to win every significant engagement.
Today, the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division stands ready to deploy rapidly, fight anywhere, and to win.