2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division
The mission of 2nd Brigade is to maintain a light infantry brigade task force manned, trained, and ready to deploy anywhere in the world by air, sea, and land; and win upon arrival. Prior to the transformation to the US Army's modular force structure, the 2-14th, 2-87th, and 4-31st Infantry Battalions and a brigade headquarters company were permanently assigned to Brigade. The Brigade served as the foundation for Task Force Commando, a force habitually task organized with divisional combat, combat support and combat service support units totaling approximately 3,200 soldiers. The mission essential tasks for Task Force Commando were: execute the alert and deployment process; conduct movement to contact, attack, defense, and relief in place operations; conduct force protection; and sustain the task force.
Following the conversion to the US Army's modular force structure, the 2-87th Infantry departed the Brigade, and the 1-89th Cavalry, 2-15th Field Artillery (previously assigned to the subsequently inactivated 10th Mountain Division Artillery), and the 210th Brigade Support Battalion (previously assigned to the 10th Mountain Division Support Command as the 210th Forward Support Battalion). The 10th Mountain's 2nd Brigade Combat Team remained known as Task Force Commando, a light infantry unit designed for mobility and rapid deployment capability. The Brigade Unit of Action concept was part of an Army-wide reorganization which changes brigade-sized elements into smaller more modular forces capable of deploying without the rest of its parent division.
The 2nd Brigade was activated on 7 October 1985, at Fort Benning, Georgia, and it consisted of 2 battalions: the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 14th Infantry. Led by Col. Mike Plummer, the brigade played a pivotal role in Celtic Cross, the certification program for the light infantry concept. With Col. Conner in command, the Brigade added its third battalion, the "Catamounts" of 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment. The Brigade completed the move from Fort Benning to Fort Drum in January 1989.
In autumn 1989 the Brigade deployed to Germany to participate in exercises Caravan Guard and REFORGER. In 1990, under the command of Col. Burnette, the Brigade participated in the 10th Mountain Division's first large-scale field training exercise, Mountain Peak. During the Gulf War, the Brigade sent 2-14th Infantry to the Multi-National Force and Observers mission in the Sinai. In August 1991, the Brigade deployed to Germany to participate in REFORGER. In December 1991, 2-14th Infantry deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of Haitian Refugee operations. In August 1992, the Brigade headquarters, 2-14th Infantry, and 2-87th Infantry deployed to South Florida as a part of the Hurricane Andrew relief effort.
In December 1992, less than two months after returning from Florida, the brigade conducted a strategic deployment to Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope. Operations Restore and Continue Hope eventually saw all 3 battalions of the Brigade engaged in combat operations.
In July 1994, the Brigade was alerted for contingency operations in the Republic of Haiti and began reorganization in preparation for their role in the Advanced Warfighting Experiment. This culminated with the XVIII Airborne Corps Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise "Dragon Team."
During 1997 2nd Brigade deployed 2-87th Infantry to the Sinai for six months and 2 rifle companies from 2-14th Infantry to Bosnia for 8 months. When the Army deploys a unit to a potentially hostile environment where its performance could dramatically effect national policy and prestige, that unit is provided all the resources in personnel and equipment needed to maximize its success. The personnel shortage within these deploying units required cross attachment of personnel throughout the brigade to fill them to their authorized strength. To fill 2 of 2-14th Infantry's rifle companies for Bosnia, the 2 non-deploying companies of 2-14th Infantry (one rifle company and the battalion headquarters company) were used to make up the difference. In effect, the entire Battalion was rendered non-mission ready for its wartime mission in order to deploy 2 of its 3 rifle companies. A similar cross leveling experience was felt within the brigade and division to fill 2-87th Infantry to its authorized strength for their Sinai mission. The cross leveling requirement was demanding on the non-deploying units within 2nd Brigade.
Training readiness of these deploying units was a concern. Reorganization of personnel and equipment almost immediately degraded the wartime readiness of both 2-87th and 2-14th Infantry as they prepared for their peace operation missions. While each unit during their deployments maintained squad and individual training skills, collective mission essential skills above squad level eroded. Upon return from their operations, each battalion again reorganized personnel and equipment and began the retraining process. The total time each battalion was not ready for its wartime mission was approximately 11 months. While the wartime readiness levels dropped in both 2-87th and 2-14th Infantry, their performance on their respective peace operations was exemplary. Contributing to regional stability and our National interests, the soldiers of 2-87th and 2-14th Infantry proudly and professionally represented the United States in the Sinai and Bosnia respectively.
1997 began with 3 separate infantry battalion deployments. The 2-87th Infantry deployed to the Sinai, Egypt, from January through July 1997 in support of the Multinational Forces and Observer (MFO) mission. The 2-14th Infantry trained and deployed 2 reinforced rifle companies to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Guard from March through November 1997. And finally, the 4-31th Infantry deployed to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in February 1997 with 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). In the spring of 1997, the Brigade conducted expert infantry training and a brigade change of command.
Following the return, recovery and integration of 2-87th Infantry from the MFO mission, the Brigade refocused on collective warfighting skills. In October, the Brigade participated in Exercise Mountain Peak in preparation for a January 1998 Joint Readiness Training Center rotation. Additionally, in October the Brigade staff participated in the United States Atlantic Command's joint training exercise, Unified Endeavor. In November 1997, the 2 companies from 2-14th Infantry redeployed from Bosnia. After the returning troops took a 3 week block leave at Christmas, 2-14th Infantry began a retraining and recertification process focused on a March 1998 deployment to the United States Army's Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama. The Brigade also conducted numerous on-post collective training events and live fire exercises throughout the year.
Major force modernization projects in 1997 included the fielding of the Light-Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV) that replaced the brigade's older 5-ton truck fleet enhancing transportation capability. Enhancing soldier effectiveness, the brigade also received PVS-7D night vision goggles and the new multi-layer sleeping bag. All these improvements significantly increased the combat and logistics capability of the brigade.
Task Force Commando began preparing for the JRTC at Fort Polk, Louisiana 6 months prior to deployment. In August of 1997, the leaders of Task Force Commando deployed to Folk Polk for a week long seminar with the JRTC cadre and conducted practical exercises on planning and controlling combat operations. Simultaneously, squads and platoons back at Fort Drum trained on small unit collective tasks in a field environment. In September of 1997, the Brigade conducted a brigade level exercise at Fort Drum, executing battalion air assaults and a brigade defense in preparation for JRTC. In October 1997, Task Force Commando participated in Mountain Peak, an annual division exercise designed to help prepare a brigade task force for JRTC. The Division closely replicated the JRTC scenario including dedicated opposing forces, observer and controllers, and a fire marker system to replicate artillery and close air support during the exercise. Mountain Peak allowed Task Force Commando to train on many of the same task that were executed at JRTC. Following Mountain Peak, the Brigade began a series of platoon and company combined arms live fire exercises. In November 1997, the brigade continued staff training and units focused on deployment readiness tasks. December 1997 was spent on final preparation for deployment, block leave, and deployment to JRTC.
Task Force Commando deployed to Fort Polk in early January 1998 with over 2,900 soldiers: 2 infantry battalions, an aviation task force, an artillery battalion, an armored cavalry troop, and other division and corps combat support and combat service support units. The mission of Task Force Commando was to deploy as a show of force in support of the notional country of Cortina (Fort Polk) and deter aggression. If deterrence failed, the Brigade's mission was to seize an airfield and defend in sector to facilitate the unimpeded buildup of follow on forces. Following this mission, the Brigade was to attack to secure MOUT City to facilitate the return of the area of operations to Cortinaian control. During the JRTC rotation, the Brigade executed several essential mission tasks: execute the alert and deployment process; conduct movement to contact, attack, and defend; conduct force protection; and sustain the task force. Additionally, the task force conducted twenty-one live fire exercises on the range facilities at Fort Polk.
The JRTC rotation began with the disturbing news from Fort Drum that an ice storm had severely damaged parts of upstate New York. After being assured that the remainder of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was fully mobilized for this crisis, the soldiers of Task Force Commando set out to complete the task at hand. The performance of the Brigade during this exercise was outstanding.
The deployment, search and attack, and attack against a built up area phases of our JRTC rotation were executed extremely well. The observer/controllers stated that, "The MOUT attack on Shugart-Gordon training village was the best they had observed. It was obvious that the Brigade's train-up had paid off." The opposing forces enjoyed some successes (e.g. they were able to breach the lines of the task force during the defense phase), however. As a result several key lessons were learned by Task Force Commando leaders during this phase.
The deployment to JRTC validated and improved the ability to execute mission essential tasks skills and overall combat readiness. As of early 1998 the brigade was ready to deploy and accomplish its wartime mission. To be considered fully combat ready, the Brigade required minimal additional training and additional personnel. Low personnel strength in infantrymen and logistic personnel continued to adversely impact unit readiness. The 2-14th Infantry still required substantial training over several months in order to be considered fully combat ready. Their capstone training event was a rotation to the National Training Center in November 1998.
Shortages of infantrymen and sergeants had a major impact on readiness as of early 1998. A number of infantry squads were partially manned and a majority of company anti-tank (at the time equipped with the Dragon missile system) sections were unmanned or not qualified. The manning shortages of company anti-tank sections within the Brigade greatly affected anti-armor capability. Shortages in low density logistical military occupational skills had begun to marginally affect the brigade's logistical, food service, maintenance, and communication capabilities. While the Brigade coulc still accomplish its wartime mission, personnel shortages had the largest negative impact on the Brigade's readiness.
The Brigade's equipment was mission ready and well maintained. Some equipment shortages, such as night vision devices, within the brigade had a slight affect on readiness. Overall the brigade training readiness was at the necessary level to accomplish its wartime mission. The Brigade was fully trained on the mission essential tasks of execute the deployment process, conduct movement to contact, conduct attack, and sustain the task force. The Brigade needed minimal additional training to be considered fully trained on the mission essential tasks of conduct relief in place, defense, and protect the force.
The 2-14th Infantry returned from deployment to Panama at the end of March 1998, while the remainder of the Brigade participated in a division command post exercise. In April 1998, 4-31th Infantry focused on combined live fire exercises and provided support to the 82d Airborne Division's Warfighter Exercise. May 1998 included expert infantry and medical training and testing for the entire brigade. Also in May 1998, 2-87th Infantry deployed to West Point, New York, in support of the United States Military Academy. In June 1998, the Brigade and 2 of its infantry battalions deployed to the field for two weeks of intense maneuver and live fire training. This 2 week brigade training density included: a battalion air assault, battalion level attacks on a MOUT training site, and company and platoon level combined arms live fire exercises. Fort Drum conducted company level combined live fire exercises. The brigade took block leave in July 1998 and returned to prepare for Exercise Mountain Peak. Mountain Peak was conducted in August 1998 with 2nd Brigade providing the observers/controllers and opposing forces for 1st Brigade's exercise designed to prepare them for JRTC. In September 2-14th Infantry trained at Fort Benning, Georgia with a brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) to prepare for their October 1998 rotation to the National Training Center. The Brigade ended the fiscal year with a field training exercise and deployed 4-31th Infantry to Southwest Asia for a 4 month security mission.
Between July 2001 and January 2003, the Brigade headquarters and all 3 battalions deployed at least once in support of combat operations or peacekeeping missions as well as the Joint Readiness Training Center or National Training Center. The Brigade headquarters deployed from December 2001 to April 2002 for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. 2-14th and 2-87th Infantry conducted peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and the Sinai, respectively. 4-31st Infantry deployed forces to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Qatar.
On May 4, 2004 the Department of Defense and the Army announced that 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division had been ordered to deploy within 70 days to Iraq to relieve elements of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The 2nd Brigade task organization included 2 infantry companies from JTRC opposing forces, a mechanized task force from Fort Riley, Kansas, an engineer company from Fort Irwin, California, and a military police platoon from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The 2nd Brigade deployed consisted of the Brigade Headquarters Company, 2-14th Infantry, 4-31st Infantry, 2-15th Field Artillery, 210th Forward Support Battalion, B/10th Signal Battalion, and elements of 110th Military Intelligence Battalion. There were also other units from other Army posts that were to be attached to 2nd Brigade for the mission. Units of the 2nd Brigade that had redeployed in the preceeding weeks were not to be part of this deployment.
In June 2004 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade continued training as they prepared for an upcoming deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A 4-day battle simulation exercise tested the strengths and weaknesses of the brigade at all levels and ranks. As brigade leaders studied topographical maps and wall charts inside the confines of Nash Gym, Soldiers down range fired weapon systems at pop-up targets.
By mid-July 2004 approximately 2,000 Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division had convoyed from Kuwait to Baghdad. The 2nd Brigade was to serve with the 1st Cavalry Division for one year at Forward Operating Bases throughout Baghdad. Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, were introduced to their new neighborhood through right-seat rides, which were patrols accompanied by units experienced in their area of responsibility (AOR). The right-seat rides are vital to preparing Soldiers for the regions that will eventually become their area of responsibility.
In October of that year, the Brigade assumed the entire sector of western Baghdad, including the districts of Abu Ghraib, Monsour, and Khadamiyah and the notorious "Route Irish," running from the Baghdad Airport to the International Zone from 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, the "Blackjack Brigade," as they moved west into the battle for Fallujah. The Brigade took several retransmission elements from B/10th Signal Battalion, for the duration of the fight. The Commandos likewise accepted temporary command and control of 2-12th Armored, 2-7th Cavalry, 1-5th Infantry, 2-82nd Field Artillery, 91st Engineers, 4-5th ADA, a platoon of Estonian infantry, 127th Military Police Company, and the 303rd Iraqi Army Battalion (later re-designated 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th IA Division) on 24 October 2004.
As tensions mounted in Sadr City in fall 2004, 1-41st Infantry and B/2-14th Infantry moved to support 1st Brigade, 1st Cav. against the Mahdi Militia in Eastern Bagdad returning to 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) in February 2005.
The highlight of the deployment was the successful security of the 1st Iraqi Democratic election on 30 January 2006. Considered the center of gravity for the election, it is estimated that 60 percent of the citizens in 2nd Brigade's sector of western Baghdad, voted. Throughout the country, 7 million Iraqis voted in the election. In the 2nd Brigade area of operations, citizens of Baghdad walked nearly 20 kilometers to place their ballots. Of the 9 suicide bombers in Iraq on election day, 5 of them were in the 2nd Brigade's area of responsibility, but had no effect on the determination of the Iraqi people. Operation Commando Freeze was a tactical victory for 2nd Brigade and a strategic defeat for the insurgency. During this period, 2nd Brigade detained 745 insurgents.
With the Shia majority gaining political power after years of oppression under Saddam Hussein and the Sunni minority losing political status, the potential for an attack against the holiest Shia celebration of Ashura was assessed as high. Again, the Brigade fulfilled the mission from 11-21 February 2005, defending the Khadamiyah Shrine with the 303rd IA Battalion and the Amarah Battalion. The Brigade's efforts resulted in a successful and peaceful holiday for the Shia pilgrims.
In February 2005, C/2-14 Infantry and B/4-31st Infantry reunited with their parent battalions in Iraq, allowing A and B/1-509th Airborne Infantry to return to training Soldiers at the JRTC. Almost immediately these 2 companies began to conduct operations in Baghdad with C/2-14th Infantry operating in eastern Abu Ghraib and B/4-31st in Khadamiyah.
In March 2005, the 126th MP Company from the New Mexico National Guard joined the 2nd Brigade task organization to replace the 127th Military Police Company which was redeploying to Germany. The 126th assumed the 127th's primary mission of training the Iraqi Police and conducting route security.
As the newly elected government began to evolve and the governing council began to form, 2nd Brigade executed 3rd Infantry Division's Operation Flying Eagle/Warning Track on order, to secure passage of the elected officials and government leaders to the International Zone to participate in what was known as the 'seating' of the Transitional National Assembly. This was a repetitive mission, executed every 2 to 3 days as the government began to meet more regularly.
On 15 April 2005, 2nd Brigade began a relocation as part of the integration plan for the 48th Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard, and redeployment of 2nd Brigade. The plan called for the unit to conduct a series of reliefs in place and transferring battle space with 256th Brigade Louisiana ANG, swapping the western area of urban Baghdad with the western and southern rural regions once again.
The initial moves allowed 2nd Brigade to assume all of Abu Ghraib to include the external security of the Abu Ghraib Internment Facility and the Aqurquf area to the north of Abu Ghraib. The Brigade's forces were arrayed as follows: Task Force 2-14 retained eastern Abu Ghraib, TF 1-41 assumed western Abu Ghraib, TF 4-31 assumed the prison security mission and TF 2-15 assumed the northern area. During this time the Brigade accepted the 3rd Muthana Brigade, 6th IA Division and conducted Operation Brickyard (later re-named Commando Squeeze Play in line with 3rd Infantry Division operational naming convention). During this operation, the Brigade supported the 3/6th IA's detention of over 440 insurgents, bringing attacks in Abu Ghraib down from 20 per day to only 2 or 3 per day.
Task Force 1-41 and 4-31 conducted battle handovers of western Abu Ghraib with 1/11th Armored Cavalry on 1 June 2005 and the Brigade began to focus on operations in Southern Baghdad called Operation Commando Squeeze Play South.
The Brigade accepted 2-70th Armored and 3/3rd Armored Cavalry in the Mamudiya, Yuosafiya, and Latifiya areas south of Baghdad in late May 2005. The Brigade also assumed tactical control of the 1st Brigade, Iraqi Intervention Force; 4th Brigade, 6th IA Division; 4th Public Order Brigade; and 2nd Brigade MOI Commandos. Operation Commando Squeeze Play South commenced on 2 June 2005. Upon completion 3 June 2005, the Brigade, along with Iraqi security forces, had detained 366 insurgents, and, as in Abu Ghraib, attacks fell from 20-30 per day prior to the operation to 2 to 3 per day.
Upon completion of Operation Commando Squeeze Play South, the Brigade refocused its attention on the integration of the 48th BCT to assume operations west of Baghdad. Units and staff sections of the brigade conducted relief in place tasks and train-up for the 48th to assume the area of operations with the final transfer of authority between the brigades on 17 June 2005. The 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division Headquarters departed Iraq June 21, 2005.
The Commando area of responsibility of western Baghdad had the highest concentration of casualties in Iraq and had the largest number of enemy contacts. Throughout the deployment 2nd Brigade conducted more than 66,000 combat patrols, captured 1,905 detainees, experienced 645 improvised explosive devices detonated, 413 IEDs discovered, 316 mortar attacks, 148 rocket attacks, 65 indirect fire attacks of undetermined type/caliber, 537 small arms fire attacks, 128 rocket propelled grenade attacks, 136 coordinated attacks, 14 surface-to-air missile attacks, 165 attacks against local nationals, 7 suicide bomber attacks, 56 behicle borne improvised explosive devices detonated, 21 vehicle carried improvised explosive devices detonated, 3 VBIED and 4 VCIEDs discovered.
The 2nd Brigade civil-military operations team, consisting of the civil-military operations officer, brigade engineer cell, and project management team, was active in 3 of the lines of operation: governance, essential services, and economic development. Active in the local government, 2nd Brigade worked closely with neighborhood and district councils to strengthen ties with the local populace and improve the function of the local government. The 2nd Brigade repaired critical infrastructure in Western Baghdad in the Districts of Kadhimiya, Al Mansour and Abu Ghraib, as well as in the rural areas of Saba Al Bor and Mahmudiya. Focused on the key areas of sewer, water, electricity and trash removal, 2nd Brigade executed 308 civil-military operations projects worth over $50 million. In addition, the project management team monitored another 71 projects funded by external organizations worth almost $75 million. These projects played a critical role in improving essential services for over three million Iraqis. A key area of economic development that 2nd Brigade focused on in the rural areas was the improvement of the agricultural industry. The Brigade delivered over 300 tons of high-quality wheat and barley seed, over 100 tons of fertilizer, and over 30 water pumps and 20 generators for rural power development to enhance critical irrigation water availability.
The sustainment effort led by the 210th Forward Support Battalion was critical to the success of 2nd Brigade operations. From the alert notification on 2 May, 2005, 210th FSB worked feverishly to provide direct support combat service support, combat health support, and field services to the Commando Brigade and attached units. The 210th FSB supported 8 battalion task forces and brigade troops for the majority of the deployment, while designed and resourced to support four.
2 crowning achievements that it was hoped would ultimately lead to the long-term stability of Iraq were the development of the 303rd IA Battalion and the 3rd Muthana Brigade, 6th IA Division. The 303rd, later renamed 2/1/6th IA, progressed from a unit able to execute only squad- and platoon-level operations to a competent, hard-charging battalion that was feared by the enemy. 2/1/6th IA conducted hundreds of patrols throughout Ameriya, notorious for anti-Iraqi forces operations and cells, rounding up dozens of AIF planners, facilitators and operators. Eventually, 2/1/6th IA was assigned to defend Haifa Street, a road made infamous by the QJBR and Ansar al Sunna terror cell attacks. Within a matter of weeks, 2/1/6th had regained the street bringing stability to the area.
The second achievement was the 3rd Muthana Brigade's occupation of Forward Operating Base Constitution in the heart of Abu Ghraib. Again, introduction of a competent, disciplined unit brought stability to an area high in enemy contact. These accomplishments were made possible by the Commando advisory group.
29 Commandos made the ultimate sacrifice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2.5. 422 Soldiers were wounded.
Upon return to Fort Drum, the 2nd Brigade began transformation into the new modular brigade structure, drawing new equipment and developing the new capabilities unique to the transformed infantry brigade combat team. Added to the reorganized Brigade Combat Team were 2-71st Cavalry (re-flagged to 1-89th Cavalry), 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and reflagging and reassignment of the Forward Support Battalion to the 210 Brigade Support Battalion, an integral Brigade asset.
In March and April 2006, the Brigade conducted a 6-week National Training Center rotation in Fort Irwin, fighting the opposition force and developing experience in full spectrum operations to include lethal, non-lethal, civil-military, and information operations. The 2nd Brigade subsequently redeloyed to Iraq and served there through 2007.
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