The Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce hosted the commander of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at the chamber’s quarterly military update luncheon Wednesday at Texas A&M University Central Texas.
Col. John Woodward, “Greywolf” Brigade commander, deployed with approximately 4,000 soldiers to Kuwait in February 2017 for a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Spartan Shield. The purpose of the brigade’s mission was to support regional partners with operational missions, bilateral, multilateral military exercises and theater security cooperation activities in the Central Command, also known as Centcom, area of responsibility, which covers the Middle East.
Woodward told chamber members that the mission, while not a direct combat mission, was one of the most complex his brigade — which returned to Fort Hood in November 2017 — had ever conducted.
“The brigade headquarters was located in this lovely place called Camp Buehring, Kuwait,” he said.
And while the battalions within the brigade were mostly headquartered in Kuwait as well, the units primarily used the location as a “spring board” for missions in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and other countries within the Middle East.
One of the highlights of the deployment was the direct involvement of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment in the liberation of Mosul, Iraq, Woodward said.
“(Lt. Col.) Andy Kiser commands 1-12 Cav, and he took his headquarters up (by Mosul) to advise and assist the Iraqi Army and assist with that liberation,” he said. “Simultaneously, we had units providing direct artillery support to the Iraqis so at any given time, I had half of my artillery assets in Iraq firing in support of those operations.”
One of the most complex missions, however, was in Syria, he added.
“At the time, we were fighting a proxy war helping out the Kurds so they could fight (the Islamic State) for us,” Woodward said. “They are looked at unfavorably by the Turks. We were positioned forward in Syria to protect the Kurds from the Turks — we were protecting our Kurdish friends, who are fighting this fight, from another NATO ally.”
Primarily, he said, it was his soldiers’ job to keep both the Turks and Kurds from attacking one another and to facilitate diplomatic resolutions when clashes occurred.
The commander commended his troopers for the “tremendous job” they did while deployed and thanked the chamber members for the support the Greater Killeen area provides the soldiers of Fort Hood and their families.