By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
When Col. Douglas Crissman assumed command of the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team in April, the brigade was looking at 19 months at home between deployments.
"And life seemed pretty good," Crissman said.
That changed six weeks later when the Army decided a brigade was needed in Iraq five months ahead of schedule. The Defense Department officially announced the brigade's orders on Oct. 27, indicating the brigade would deploy this month for an advise-and-assist mission.
The brigade and its battalions cased their colors for Iraq on Friday on Fort Hood's Cooper Field, and soldiers have already departed Fort Hood.
Once the brigade arrives in Iraq, its name will change from a brigade combat team to an advise-and-assist brigade. It will have three primary missions: "advise, assist, train and equip Iraqi security forces; conduct partnered counter-terrorism operations; and support and protect civilian and military efforts focused on developing Iraqi civil and institutional capacity," according to the Defense Department.
Three stability transition teams, led by Lt. Col. Gregory Stokes, Lt. Col. Edwin Callahan and Lt. Col. Thomas Jauquet, were also activated during Friday's ceremony. They were named Task Force Vigilant and will lead the advise-and-assist mission with the Iraqi forces.
The brigade and its attached transition teams will inherit responsibility for part of southern Iraq's borders with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran, Crissman said. They will also partner with two Iraq army division commanders and six subordinate brigades; a division of border enforcement; four provincial chiefs of police; and more than 50 local and regional police stations.
The brigade will also help dissolve four provincial reconstruction teams and stand up a U.S. consulate in Basra, Crissman said.
This is the fourth deployment for the brigade in seven years. Its soldiers served in Baghdad from 2004 to 2005, Diyala Province from 2006 to 2007 and Ninewa Province from 2008 to 2009, Crissman said.
Fifty-nine 3rd Brigade soldiers died during those deployments.
It is a tremendous honor to be part of the beginning, middle and potential end of such a monumental effort in Iraq, Crissman said.
Though the brigade is deploying five months ahead of its original date and had enough time to prepare, leads had to be more selective about what went on the training calendar, Crissman said.
"The last nine months have been about that," he added. "Achieving that delicate balance between planning, preparation, execution, assessment and recovery for soldiers, equipment and families."