Col. Guy M. Jones CSM Michael A. Ferrussi
The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) officially activated at Fort Polk, Louisiana, January 19 2005. At its inception, the brigade included just a few hundred Soldiers and very limited amounts of equipment, billeting and even office space.
Brigade leadership immediately set to work to rapidly build combat power and capabilities in anticipation of deploying to support the Global War on Terror.
The 4th Brigade, along with five subordinate battalions and one cavalry squadron, conducted its first brigade-level exercise at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas in April 2005, Soldiers conducted company-level, combined-arms live-fire exercises.
In the midst of preparing for deployment, elements across the brigade provided disaster response and relief within Louisiana to help mitigate devastating effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita during the fall of 2005. The brigade deployed more than 300 Soldiers to New Orleans after Katrina and supported local relief-and-recovery efforts Fort Polk communities following Rita.
Once complete with disaster-relief missions, Patriot Brigade returned its focus to preparing for combat deployment during their second brigade-level exercise, which occurred at the Joint Readiness Training Center, November 2005.
Since January 2006, the brigade has deployed more than six thousand Soldiers to the front lines of freedom. The majority of them have deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, although Patriot Soldiers also have deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Throughout 2006 and 2007, several formations within the brigade operated in Afghanistan. The brigade command and headquarters established the first U.S. National Command Element in Kandahar to facilitate the transfer of authority of combat operations to NATO-led coalition allies.
Patriot Soldiers and leaders at all levels worked in Afghanistan to nurture the relationships between our coalition forces and the Afghan people. Within a short period of time, they conducted dozens of humanitarian operations throughout distant and remote parts of the country. These operations throughout provided much needed medical and veterinary assistance; built schools and clinics; improved infrastructure such as roads, wells and communications; and established a trained and capable Afghan police, Army and civil leadership presence.
In addition to reconstruction and humanitarian efforts, Patriot Brigade Soldiers conducted non-stop combat operations to improve security situation and disrupt Taliban and Al Qaeda networks and influences.
In May of 2007, the BCT received orders to prepare for a deployment to Iraq. The 4th BCT conducted a multitude of on-and off-post training in 2007, culminating with a Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center in August.
The brigade deployed to Iraq in November 2007, operating from two forward operating bases and twenty-two joint security stations and combat outposts. Task Force Patriot assumed responsibility for eastern Baghdad – a heavily urbanized area encompassing 80 square miles and more than 2 million citizens.
The brigade’s mission in Baghdad was partnering with Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Al Qaeda insurgents and Shia extremists – enabling Iraqis to take the lead for securing the population; supporting growth of local governance; and promoting essential services and economic development to protect the population while setting conditions for transition to Government of Iraq civil control.
The last major uprising of Shia extremists within Iraq occurred between March and May 2008 in Baghdad and Basra. The Patriot Brigade played a significant role isolating Sadr City and defeating extremist elements intent to disrupt the expansion of Government Iraq capability and stability.
Fortunately, the uprising was short-lived, and the brigade was able to shift its focus from conducting combat operations to rebuilding and facilitating a return to normalcy. Specifically, during the course of the deployment, Iraqis opened 28 new schools, 19 micro-power generator stations and five swimming pools.
The impact of the micro-power generators was far reaching. Unlike under previous conditions, now many Iraqis had power to operate their businesses and local governance facilities. Also, the pools opened during a critical time of the year. Amidst summer heat of daily temperatures rising to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, Iraqi families in eastern Baghdad were able to plunge into cool and refreshing waters of local pools. Additionally, three potable water distribution sites opened within Task Force Patriot’s area of operations, providing clean drinking water to thousands of Iraqi citizens.
More than 2,000 Iraqi families returned to the area and registered with the Government of Iraq as well. Patriot Soldiers found and cleared more than 160 caches of deadly weapons, made more than 270 arrests, and detained approximately 650 suspected criminals. The brigade started with more than 1,300 Sons of Iraq at the beginning of the deployment and transitioned more than 400 people into the Iraqi Police. Also, more than 300 started Iraqi Police training in December 2008 and January 2009.
However, the Patriot Brigade’s greatest achievement was reducing violence in eastern Baghdad and providing a brighter future for Iraqi people. The reduction of violence enabled Iraqis to open schools, provide increased electricity to thousands of citizens and allow business to flourish and grow. Evidence of such progress included tremendous increases of people attending public gatherings at parks and pools; bike races at Judriya water park; traffic jams; business openings; new cars; solar lights; public displays of posters and banners for upcoming elections; and renovations of symbolic Baghdad icons such as the Mutanabi Book Market. These were just a few signs of the effectiveness of combined efforts between Patriot Brigade and Iraqi Security Forces.
Ultimately, 90 percent of the brigade’s operations included Iraqi Security Forces. Every day ISF conducted more and more independent, warrant-based operations, indicating reduced dependence on coalition forces in accordance with newly adopted bi-lateral security agreement.
After returning from a 14-month deployment to Iraq in January 2009, Patriot Brigade began a reset phase of personnel and equipment – with a concentration of conducting marksmanship and other individual and collective training and receiving new equipment. Subsequently, the BCT’s three battalion-level maneuver units conducted off-post training from February through April 2010 to prepare for a deployment to Afghanistan. The brigade’s infantry battalions and cavalry squadron trained at off-post sites including Camp Williams and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and Camp Guernsey in Wyoming. Leaders selected these training sites to acclimate their Soldiers to higher altitudes and colder weather conditions common to areas of Afghanistan in which they would operate during the upcoming deployment. Soldiers of every unit that participated during off-post training excelled while performing their missions and learned how to succeed operationally in such extreme environments.
In July 2010, the Brigade completed an Afghanistan-tailored Joint Readiness Training Center rotation, which honed brigade and battalion staffs’ skills to work more aggressively and more cohesively. Patriot Brigade achieved excellence during the exercise, receiving praise from the post commander due to their success and the general’s stamp of approval to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XI.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to eastern Afghanistan’s Logar and Wardak provinces just south of the country’s capital of Kabul in October 2010. Their mission was to conduct population-centric, combined-action counterinsurgency operations –building Afghan National Security Force capability and enhancing the effectiveness of provincial governments to create a more stable environment for transition and to defeat insurgency.
The Patriot Brigade’s major milestones during OEF XI deployment encompassed expanding their area of operations to include Bamyan province, which became the first province in Afghanistan to officially begin transitioning responsibility for security, governance and development to Afghan control, July 17, 2011. Other Task Force Patriot accomplishments included effectively expanding the southern security bubble around Kabul and successfully conducting a realignment of forces to better engage the enemy and protect the populace.
Through an extensive partnership with the Afghan National Army, Patriot information-operations personnel worked with 10 localized radio stations to ensure more than 500,000 Afghan residents received news, cultural, religious, agricultural and entertainment programming from fellow Afghan citizens and sources not previously available to them.
Patriot Brigade, its subordinate task forces and associated attached units conducted approximately 400 named operations during the deployment supporting OEF XI. Highly successful while conducting lethal and non-lethal missions, the brigade detained and process about 200 suspected insurgents and terrorists while capturing and killing several High Value Individual targets.
In its partnership with Afghan National Security Force counterparts to protect Afghan citizens and support the Afghan government at all levels, Task Force Patriot attained its goal of having ANSF leading a significant number of overall operations and Afghans comprising at least 33 percent of total personnel conducting all Patriot missions outside the wire.
Non-lethally, Agribusiness Development Teams from Nevada and Georgia and Provincial Reconstruction Teams from the Czech Republic, New Zealand and Turkey funded and conducted a multitude of projects that empowered Afghans to become more self-sufficient concerning improving infrastructure and assisting farmers. These projects included storing and processing dry foods; improving mortuary and mass communication facilities; harnessing solar energy; mentoring Afghan security and government officials; and educating farmers about seed germination and various uses of crops just to name a few.
Patriot Rule-of-Law teams made great strides concerning three basic areas during the deployment. They offered encouragement, advice and mentorship to Afghan judicial officials regarding the country’s first publically conducted trial for at least three years; conducted civics classes for Afghans that emphasized citizen’s legal rights and government responsibilities; carried out warrant-based operations- following the legal process all the way from issuing warrants to achieving criminal prosecution; and oversaw government anti-corruption efforts to remove corrupt officials and legitimize the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The brigade’s contributions at home and across the world exemplify the patriotism and dedication of the men and women that wear the uniform and bear the 10th Mountain Division Patch. The 4th Brigade, Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) is equipped, trained, and prepared for upcoming combat operations as the motto exemplifies the fact that this unit was “Forged For War.”
3rd Brigade Combat Team Fort Polk Web Site