Military


Task Force Liberty
42nd Infantry Task Force

The 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters and base units mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the nation's Global War on Terror. The 42nd Division, part of the New York National Guard, will be the first National Guard division to deploy to a combat zone since the Korean War. The division headquarters will command Task Force Liberty, which will include two National Guard infantry brigades from Idaho and Tennessee, and two active-duty brigades from the 3rd Infantry Division.

Task Force Liberty brought together Soldiers from Rainbow units, the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Brigade Combat Team, the Tennessee Army National Guard's 278th Regimental Combat Team, and the 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams from the Fort Stewart, Georgia-based 3rd Infantry Division. Together they provide the basic makeup of the division task force of more than 18,000 Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve elements that will be the Army's third rotation for Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq by March 2005.

The headquarters troops mobilized 27 May 2004 to train for their mission at Fort Drum, NY. The division expected to complete its training tasks later this year and deploy to Iraq at the end of 2004 and early 2005. Over the month of June 2004 the citizen-soldiers of the Army's famous "Rainbow Division" departed home station armories across the United States for movement and in-processing at their Fort Drum, NY, Fort Dix, NJ, Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, TX and Camp Shelby, MS mobilization sites. More than 3,000 division Soldiers mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror.

Assisted by the training support members of the Army's 78th Division, Rainbow Soldiers began their individual training preparations as a first step towards validation and deployment. All divisional troops undergo evaluation by their Army unit trainers in a number of individual Soldier combat skills as well as team or collective training tasks.

The mobilization of the Rainbow Division provides a foundation on which the Army can build a combat task force for operations in Iraq. It is a reflection of the Army's transformation towards division-level command and control "units of employment" and combat brigade "units of action" in which different organizations can be assembled to form a combat force.

Division Soldiers will provide the command and control, logistics and operational base for maneuver brigades to succeed in their mission to establish a safe and secure environment in Iraq. While the maneuver brigades have yet to be announced by the Department of the Army, they may reflect any combination of Army, Army National Guard, or multinational forces.

The 42nd Infantry Task Force represents National Guard members from more than twelve states. Rainbow Division Soldiers mobilized from their home states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware, Vermont, Rhode Island and Florida. The Rainbow Team welcomed troops from Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri and Pennsylvania. These National Guard units arrived to fill in some specialty combat service support functions.

Rainbow Division units mobilizing for Operation Iraqi Freedom consist of the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters, the Aviation and Engineer Brigade Headquarters, the Division Artillery Headquarters, the Division Support Command Headquarters, the 1 st Battalion, 150th General Aviation Support Battalion, the 50th Main Support Battalion, the 642nd Division Aviation Support Battalion, the 250th Signal Battalion, the 642nd Military Intelligence Battalion, the 42nd Military Police Company, the 272nd Chemical Company, 42 nd Division Band, Battery E (Target Acquisition), 101st Field Artillery, the 42 nd Rear Operations Cell and the 173rd Long Range Surveillance Detachment.

Additionally, Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment mobilized as a supplement to the Louisiana National Guard's 256th Separate Brigade.

Additionally, the division expects to receive a variety of Active Army and Army Reserve combat, combat support and combat service support elements to complete the division base organization. Those forces will conduct their own predeployment training and join the task force overseas.

One of the most significant differences for Soldiers now serving on active duty is the issue of new individual and organization equipment. Members of the 42 nd Infantry Division began to receive new equipment items such as Interceptor Body Armor and the Modular Sleeping Bag System.

Under the Army's Rapid Fielding Initiative, other items of issue for Soldiers will include the Advanced Combat Helmet and the Improved Hot Weather Desert Boot. These items will be provided to Soldiers as they receive their Desert Combat Uniforms, or DCUs. The Army budgeted more than $400 Million this fiscal year towards equipping Soldiers for missions overseas.

More importantly, the unit supply system is full of replacement or new issue items. Weapons systems such as the M240 Machine Gun, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M16A2 rifles and their associated support equipment continue to flow into arms rooms at Fort Drum and Fort Dix for Soldiers to train, fire and qualify.

On a larger scale, units will continue to receive new vehicles, radios and other items necessary for the success of the mission overseas. For many division Soldiers, these items will require familiarization training or refresher training over the course of the summer.

The 42nd Infantry Division training program during post-mobilization blends all the portions of individual, crew, team and collective training. Rainbow Soldiers will complete validation training in their basic Soldier skills, crew and team training in tasks such as convoy operations, and collective training in command and control operations for the combat task force.

Members of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division headquarters learned 28 October 2004 that their upcoming deployment will be adjusted by 30 to 60 days. About 3,000 members of the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters delayed their deployment by 30 to 60 days, the official said. The decision was no reflection of the guardsmen's capabilities. The 42nd Infantry Division is trained, ready and equipped to execute this rotation. Deploying them sooner simply didn't make sense. Much of the equipment they will use in Iraq will still be in use by the 1st Infantry Division troops they will replace. And although leaders considered deploying the guardsmen to Kuwait before moving them into Iraq, they discarded that idea in light of the high threat level in Kuwait.



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