The 3rd Cavalry Regiment “Brave Rifles” are roughly one-third of the way through their deployment to Iraq, and according to their commander, the troopers are going above and beyond in their mission.

The troopers are in Iraq working by, with and through the Iraqi Security Forces and coalition partners to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as part of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

In the short time they have been there, the unit has already helped get Iraqi and Kurdish troops to work together — a previously unheard of proposition — brought the “steel rain” (artillery) on ISIS and instituted training programs with their Iraqi partners in every combat aspect from mortars to combat medic training.

“The Brave Rifles troopers are absolutely excelling in what they are doing,” said Col. Jonathan C. Byrom, regimental commander, in a phone interview from Iraq. “We have troopers all over the place, some in more austere conditions than others, doing various mission sets whether it be force protection, fighters in support of the Iraqis, intelligence in support of the Iraqis ... basically helping them after the defeat of ISIS.”

Byrom, who is on his third deployment to Iraq, said there has been a significant increase in the Iraqi Security Forces capabilities.

“I was here a year ago and watched them in the fight against ISIS. They have improved dramatically — they are in the lead in the fighting, and they are very confident and very effective against ISIS,” he said. “They are absolutely taking the fight to ISIS and keeping them from any sort of resurgence.”

In the process of assisting the Iraqi forces in defeating ISIS, Brave Rifles troopers are shining in multiple areas, Byrom said. One of those outstanding troopers is Pfc. Michael Gilreath.

Gilreath arrived to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment July 14, 2017. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, he is a mortarman with the 4th Squadron “Longknife.”

He was assigned as the driver for the squadron command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Adam S. Nash, during a mission on the Syrian-Iraqi border from May 28 to July 15. Longknife Squadron established Fire Base Um Jorais in a remote desert location based on mission requirements for cross-border fire in support of Syrian Democratic Forces maneuvering to destroy ISIS, an austere location with no amenities whatsoever.

Gilreath was identified as having exceptional talent outside of his primary military occupational specialty, having experience with construction prior to enlisting in the Army, and he took the initiative to lead efforts in improving the fire base living conditions and functionality. Some of the many projects that he completed included showers, hand-washing stations, an extra-large water storage container, patio with overhead cover, tables and chairs.

Gilreath was able to accomplish these impressive construction projects with minimal tools and raw lumber, Byrom said. His hard work ensured the success of missions at Fire Base Um Jorais and displayed the flexibility, expertise and discipline of the regiment’s troopers.

“We were working with the Iraqi’s with our artillery,” Byrom said about the fire base. “For these guys, as they were coming into country with the regiment .. they were able to deploy to this forward operating location hundreds of kilometers from any other base we have, and then support it not only for ourselves and others, but (while) coordinating with the Iraqis. Extremely challenging, and they did it magnificently.”

The overall goal of the regiment is to assist in the complete defeat of ISIS, the commander said. And the unit is doing that through multiple lines of effort.

The regiment cased their colors on post during a ceremony April 17 for the nine-month deployment and is scheduled to return to Fort Hood in early 2019. | 254-501-7554 | 254-501-7554

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