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History of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

The 2nd Brigade was activated 7 OCT 1985, at Fort Benning, Ga., and it consisted of two battalions: the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 14th Infantry. Led by Col. Mike Plummer, the brigade played a pivotal role in Celtic Cross, the certification program for the light infantry concept. With Col. Conner in command, the brigade added its third battalion, the "Catamounts" of 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment. The brigade completed the move from Fort Benning to Fort Drum in January 1989.

In autumn 1989 the brigade deployed to Germany to participate in exercises Caravan Guard and REFORGER. In 1990, under the command of Col. Burnette, the brigade participated in the 10th Mountain Division's first large-scale field training exercise, Mountain Peak. During the Gulf War, the brigade sent 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment to the Multi-National Force and Observers mission in the Sinai. In August 1991, the brigade deployed to Germany to participate in REFORGER. In December 1991, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of Haitian Refugee operations. In August 1992, the brigade headquarters; 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment; and 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment deployed to South Florida as a part of the Hurricane Andrew relief effort.

In December 1992, less than two months after returning from Florida, the brigade conducted a strategic deployment to Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope. Operations Restore and Continue Hope eventually saw all three battalions of the brigade engaged in combat operations.

In July 1994, the brigade was alerted for contingency operations in the Republic of Haiti and began reorganization in preparation for their role in the Advanced Warfighting Experiment. This culminated with the XVIII Airborne Corps Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise "Dragon Team."

Since June 1997, 2nd Brigade has supported quick reaction force missions in Bosnia and with the Multinational Force and Observer mission in the Sinai. In 1998, the brigade deployed to a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation, executed the U.S. Military Academy support mission, and deployed to Operation Desert Fox in Southwest Asia. The brigade deployed to Bosnia-Herzogovina from September 1999 to March 2000 in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, Stability Force 6.

Between July 2001 and January 2003, the brigade headquarters and all three battalions deployed at least once in support of combat operations or peacekeeping missions, as well as the JRTC or National Training Center. Brigade headquarters deployed from December 2001 through April 2002 for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Second battalion, 14th Infantry and 2-87 Infantry conducted peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and the Sinai, respectively. Fourth battalion, 31st Infantry deployed forces to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Qatar.

In March and May 2003, the 2-14 Infantry and two companies from 4-31 Infantry deployed to the Central Command area of operations in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Second battalion, 87th Infantry deployed to Fort Knox, Ky., in support of the Stryker Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, an important exercise that was part of the Army?s transformation.

From May to December 2003, the brigade headquarters and 4-31 Infantry deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as coalition joint Task Force Phoenix, responsible for training the Afghan National Army.

From July 2003 to August 2004, 2-87 Infantry deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to fight the war on terrorism.

With only a short rest at Fort Drum, the brigade combat team redeployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The specially tailored brigade, with additions from 1-41 Infantry (Mechanized) from Fort Riley, Kansas; 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment and 58th Combat Engineer Company, opposition force units from Fort Polk, La., and Fort Irwin, Calif.; 463rd military police platoon from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; and B Company, 17th Engineers from Fort Bragg, N.C., met in Kuwait and made the four-day ground assault convoy into Baghdad in July 2004. The "Commando" brigade initially secured the Baghdad International Airport area to the southwest of the Iraqi capital, successfully protecting the military and civilian air traffic from rocket, mortar and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons and allowing the airport to be opened to civilian traffic on Aug .14, 2004.

In October of that year, the Commando brigade assumed the entire sector of western Baghdad, including the districts of Abu Ghraib, Monsour, and Khadamiyah and the notorious ?Route Irish,? running from the Baghdad Airport to the International Zone from 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, the ?Blackjack Brigade,? as they moved west into the battle for Fallujah. The brigade took several retransmission elements from B Co., 10th Signal Battalion, for the duration of the fight. The Commandos likewise accepted temporary command and control of 2-12 Armored, 2-7 Cavalry, 1-5 Infantry, 2-82 Field Artillery, 91st Engineers, 4-5 ADA, a platoon of Estonian infantry, 127 Military Police Company, and the 303d Iraqi Army Battalion (later re-designated 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th IA Division) on Oct. 24, 2004.

As tensions mounted in Sadr City in fall 2004, 1-41 Inf. and B/2-14 inf. moved to support 1st BCT, 1st Cav. against the Mahdi Militia in Eastern Bagdad returning to 2-10 Mountain Division (Light Infantry) in February 2005.

The highlight of the deployment was the successful security of the 1st Iraqi Democratic election on Jan. 30, 2006. Considered the center of gravity for the election, it is estimated that 60 percent of the citizens in 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division?s sector of western Baghdad, voted. Throughout the country, 7 million Iraqis voted in the election. In the 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) area of operations, citizens of Baghdad walked nearly 20 kilometers to place their ballots. Of the nine suicide bombers in Iraq on election day, five of them were in the 2nd BCT area of responsibility, but had no effect on the determination of the Iraqi people. Operation Commando Freeze was a tactical victory for 2nd BCT and a strategic defeat for the insurgency. During this period, 2nd BCT detained 745 insurgents.

With the Shia majority gaining political power after years of oppression under Saddam Hussein and the Sunni minority losing political status, the potential for an attack against the holiest Shia celebration of Ashura was assessed as high. Again, the BCT fulfilled the mission from Feb. 11 -21, 2005, defending the Khadamiyah Shrine with the 303rd IA Battalion and the Amarah Battalion. The BCT?s efforts resulted in a successful and peaceful holiday for the Shia pilgrims.

In February 2005, C Company, 2-14 Inf. and B/4-31 Inf. reunited with their parent battalions in Iraq, allowing A and B/1-509 Airborne Infantry Regiment to return to training Soldiers at the JRTC. Almost immediately these two companies began to conduct operations in Baghdad with C/2-14 operating in eastern Abu Ghraib and B/4-31 in Khadamiyah.

In March 2005, the 126th MP Company from the New Mexico National Guard joined the 2nd BCT task organization to replace the 127th Military Police Company which was redeploying to Germany. The 126th assumed the 127th?s primary mission of training the Iraqi Police and conducting route security.

Again, from March 25 through April 1, 2005, the BCT conducted area security operations to protect and secure the Shia Muslims making the Arba?een pilgrimage memorializing the carrying of Imam Hussain?s martyred body from his execution site in Khadamiyah to the holy site in Najaf. Once more, due to 2nd BCT?s diligence, the event was completed with minimal interference by the insurgency. Nearly 500,000 pilgrims participated in the observance.

As the newly elected government began to evolve and the governing council began to form, 2nd BCT executed 3rd Infantry Division?s Operation Flying Eagle/ Warning Track on order, to secure passage of the elected officials and government leaders to the International Zone to participate in what was known as the ?seating? of the Transitional National Assembly. This was a repetitive mission, executed every two to three days as the government began to meet more regularly.

On April 15, 2005, 2nd BCT began a relocation as part of the integration plan for the 48th BCT, Georgia Army National Guard, and redeployment of 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. The plan called for the unit to conduct a series of reliefs in place and transferring battle space with 256th BCT Louisiana ANG, swapping the western area of urban Baghdad with the western and southern rural regions once again.

The initial moves allowed 2nd BCT to assume all of Abu Ghraib to include the external security of the Abu Ghraib Internment Facility and the Aqurquf area to the north of Abu Ghraib. The BCT?s forces were arrayed as follows: Task Force 2-14 retained eastern Abu Ghraib, TF 1-41 assumed western Abu Ghraib, TF 4-31 assumed the prison security mission and TF 2-15 assumed the northern area. During this time the BCT accepted the 3rd Muthana Brigade, 6th IA Division and conducted Operation Brickyard (later re-named Commando Squeeze Play in line with 3rd Infantry Division operational naming convention). During this operation, the BCT supported the 3/6 IA?s detention of over 440 insurgents, bringing attacks in Abu Ghraib down from 20 per day to only two or three per day.

Task Force 1-41 and 4-31 conducted battle handovers of western Abu Ghraib with 1/11 ACR on June 1, 2005 nd the BCT began to focus on operations in Southern Baghdad called Operation Commando Squeeze Play South.

The BCT accepted 2-70 AR and 3/3 ACR in the Mamudiya, Yuosafiya, and Latifiya areas south of Baghdad in late May 2005. The BCT also assumed tactical control of the 1st Brigade, Iraqi Intervention Force; 4th Brigade, 6th IA Division; 4th Public Order Brigade; and 2nd Brigade MOI Commandos. Operation Commando Squeeze Play South commenced on June 2, 2005. Upon completion June 3, 2005, the BCT, along with Iraqi security forces, had detained 366 insurgents, and, as in Abu Ghraib, attacks fell from 20-30 per day prior to the operation to two to three per day.

Upon completion of Operation Commando Squeeze Play South, the BCT refocused its attention on the integration of the 48th BCT to assume operations west of Baghdad. Units and staff sections of the brigade conducted relief in place tasks and train-up for the 48th to assume the area of operations with the final transfer of authority between the brigades June 17, 2005.

The 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division Headquarters departed Iraq June 21, 2005.

The Commando area of responsibility of western Baghdad had the highest concentration of casualties in Iraq and had the largest number of enemy contacts. Throughout the deployment 2nd BCT conducted more than 66,000 combat patrols, captured 1,905 detainees, experienced 645 improvised explosive devices detonated, 413 IEDs discovered, 316 mortar attacks, 148 rocket attacks, 65 indirect fire attacks of undetermined type/caliber, 537 small arms fire attacks, 128 rocket propelled grenade attacks, 136 coordinated attacks, 14 surface-to-air missile attacks, 165 attacks against local nationals, seven suicide bomber attacks, 56 vehicle borne improvised explosive devices detonated, 21 vehicle carried improvised explosive devices detonated, three vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and 4 VCIEDs discovered.

The 2nd BCT civil-military operations team, consisting of the civil-military operations officer, brigade engineer cell, and project management team, was active in three of the lines of operation: governance, essential services, and economic development. Active in the local government, 2nd BCT worked closely with neighborhood and district councils to strengthen ties with the local populace and improve the function of the local government. The 2nd BCT repaired critical infrastructure in Western Baghdad in the Districts of Kadhimiya, Al Mansour and Abu Ghraib, as well as in the rural areas of Saba Al Bor and Mahmudiya. Focused on the key areas of sewer, water, electricity and trash removal, 2nd BCT executed 308 civil-military operations projects worth over $50 million. In addition, the project management team monitored another 71 projects funded by external organizations worth almost $75 million. These projects played a critical role in improving essential services for over three million Iraqis. A key area of economic development that 2nd BCT focused on in the rural areas was the improvement of the agricultural industry. The BCT delivered over 300 tons of high-quality wheat and barley seed, over 100 tons of fertilizer, and over 30 water pumps and 20 generators for rural power development to enhance critical irrigation water availability.

The sustainment effort led by the 210th Forward Support Battalion was critical to the success of 2nd BCT operations. From the alert notification on May 2 , 2005, 210th FSB worked feverishly to provide direct support combat service support, combat health support, and field services to the Commando Brigade and attached units. The 210th FSB supported eight battalion task forces and brigade troops for the majority of the deployment, while designed and resourced to support four.

Two crowning achievements which are hoped will ultimately lead to the long-term stability of Iraq were the development of the 303rd IA Battalion and the 3rd Muthana Brigade, 6th IA Division. The 303rd, later renamed 2/1/6 IA, progressed from a unit able to execute only squad- and platoon-level operations to a competent, hard-charging battalion which was feared by the enemy. 2/1/6 IA conducted hundreds of patrols throughout Ameriya, notorious for anti-Iraqi forces operations and cells, rounding up dozens of AIF planners, facilitators and operators. Eventually, 2/1/6 IA was assigned to defend Haifa Street, a road made infamous by the QJBR and Ansar al Sunna terror cell attacks. Within a matter of weeks, 2/1/6 had regained the street bringing stability to the area.

The second achievement was the 3rd Muthana Brigade?s occupation of Forward Operating Base Constitution in the heart of Abu Ghraib. Again, introduction of a competent, disciplined unit brought stability to an area high in enemy contact. These accomplishments were made possible by the Commando advisory group.

Twenty-nine Commandos made the ultimate sacrifice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2.5. Four hundred twenty-two Soldiers were wounded.

By the efforts of 2nd BCT, 27 million Iraqis now have a democratically elected government.

Upon return to Fort Drum, the 2nd BCT began transformation into the new brigade structure, drawing new equipment and developing the new capabilities unique to the transformed infantry brigade combat team. Added to the BCT were 2-71 Cavalry (later re-flagged to 1-89 Cav.), 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and re-flagging the Forward Support Battalion to 210 Brigade Support Battalion.

In March and April, the BCT conducted a six-week National Training Center rotation in Fort Irwin, fighting the opposition force and developing experience in full spectrum operations to include lethal, non-lethal, civil-military, and information operations.