By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
Soldiers from nearly every Fort Hood unit will be in the Middle East or Afghanistan by this fall, just another reminder of the importance the post plays thousands of miles from Central Texas.
It was announced in mid-May by the Texas comptroller that one of every 10 active-duty soldiers in the Army is stationed at Fort Hood, making it the largest installation in the United States.
The divisions in Iraq
The 4th Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Special Troops Battalion deployed to Iraq late last year to take over as head of Multinational Division-Baghdad and its Combat Aviation Brigade will join them soon.
The division did not leave as one large body as it and Fort Hood’s other division, the 1st Cavalry, did in deployments past.
The division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team left Central Texas earlier this year after its original deployment date was pushed back several months. It was announced in October that instead of leaving in November and December, the soldiers would deploy in March.
The change was likely based on the then-current situation in Iraq, and with drawdowns and re-alignments, the Army didn’t need 1st Brigade until then, Stover said in October.
The 4th Infantry’s 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams are at Fort Carson, Colo., and the 3rd deployed with the Headquarters and Special Troops Battalion. The 2nd Brigade, which relocated to Fort Carson in June 2007, has orders to deploy in 2009.
The Combat Aviation Brigade’s first flight left Fort Hood Monday and more are scheduled to leave this week.
“While it will be difficult for the families and we understand that; we are looking forward to working with the Iron Eagles again,” said Lt. Col. Steven Stover, a spokesman for the division in Iraq.
The division will come together again in Baghdad and the surrounding area, Stover went on to say.
“The benefit of the modular system is the commands can seamlessly integrate brigades without affecting the mission,” he said.
The brigade’s soldiers are old friends and “many are brothers and sisters we have worked with, socialized with and fought with before,” Stover said.
The 1st Cavalry’s 4th Brigade Combat Team is also set to deploy this month. The brigade was formerly part of the 4th Brigade, but re-flagged as a 1st Cavalry unit on March 7.
It was part of a Fort Hood/Fort Bliss/Fort Carson shuffle that had more affect on guidons than soldiers. The 1st Cavalry’s 4th Brigade deployed with it from Fort Bliss. Once returning from Iraq, the brigade’s colors were cased, moved to Fort Hood and uncased by the 4th Infantry’s 4th Brigade. The 4th Infantry’s 4th Brigade colors were then moved to Fort Carson.
The now-1st Cavalry 4th Brigade spent a month late in 2007 at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and a month this year at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
The brigade will likely fall under another division while in Iraq, although Maj. Chad Carroll, a brigade spokesman, said he wasn’t yet sure which one. The troopers will take over for an 82nd Airborne brigade.
The brigade’s mission has changed several times, due largely to the tour reduction from 15 to 12 months, Carroll said in May. An Associated Press report cited that the Pentagon’s deployment-reduction policy is set to go in affect in August.
Though its soldiers are already headed for the Middle East, the brigade will host its official casing ceremony today at the division’s Cooper Field. The colors will be uncased in Iraq when the unit officially assumes responsibility for the 82nd Airborne brigade, according to information from the division.
The rest of the 1st Cavalry will prepare the rest of its brigades with a full summer of training, said Maj. David Shoupe, division spokesman.
The Pentagon announced upcoming deployments on May 19 for the 1st Cavalry’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
The brigade, which is led by Col. Gary Volesky, is still waiting for its official deployment orders, Shoupe said last month. That includes the official deployment date for the brigade’s soldiers. The brigade will continue with the same training plan that goes through this summer, he added.
“Our forces have been training and are ready to answer the call,” Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, 1st Cavalry commander, said in May.
Filling out the force
Fort Hood’s third- and fourth-largest units also have soldiers serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment deployed late last year on a 15-month rotation.
Officials with the 13th Sustainment Command are fond of saying that “since the beginning of the Global War on Terror, the sun has not set in Central Texas without soldiers of the 13th deployed in harm’s way.”
The command sends out soldiers unit sizes that range from team to brigade. The 13th currently has 29 units — more than 1,700 soldiers — deployed. That includes the command’s 4th Sustainment Brigade, who is expected to return from Kuwait next year.
“That tends to follow the trend,” said Maj. Jay Adams, command spokesman. “As a rule of thumb, we generally have about one-third of our soldiers deployed at any given time.
“All our units are generally deployed, recently re-deployed or prepping for deployment.”
The 151st Movement Control Team, 176th Medical Detachment and the 406th Transportation Detachment are set to deploy this summer. The 81st Postal and 96th Transportation Company are scheduled to leave this fall. This will be the sixth six-month deployment for the transportation company.
The 13th Sustainment Headquarters, 1st Medical Brigade and 15th Sustainment Brigade are expected to deploy next year.
The 41st Fires Brigade cased its colors on May 28 in preparation for an Iraq deployment — its third. Movement to the Middle East began for the brigade last month with the deployment of the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment.
Two 89th Military Police Brigade companies from Fort Hood — the 64th Military Police and 401st Military Police — are deployed and set to return at the end of July. The 720th Military Police Battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment return to Central Texas about two weeks ago, said Spc. Kimberly Millett, a brigade spokeswoman.
None of the brigade’s units are scheduled to deploy this summer, she added.
More than 100 soldiers from the 87th Engineer Company, 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, left for Iraq on April 28.
Operational Test Command at West Fort Hood will send a Forward Operational Assessment Team in the fall. One recently returned and another is currently deployed.
Fort Hood currently has units in Afghanistan, including the 62nd Engineer Battalion, which deployed in April. The 36th Engineer Brigade’s Headquarters returned from Afghanistan on Monday.
The 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, received orders mid-March to deploy to Afghanistan in July and those soldiers are in the process of returning to Fort Hood from block leave in preparation.
It’s always hard on the local communities when our units leave, Shoupe said.
“But after years of deployments we have found the community is behind what we do,” he said. “The support we have is really amazing, and while leaving home is difficult, it makes it a little easier.”
Those at home can rely on each other during difficult times, officials said.
The network of families back there at Fort Hood will take care of one another, Stover said.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7547.