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42nd ID training to take over Tikrit area

By Spc. Ismail Turay Jr.

TIKRIT, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 9, 2004) - In an effort to ensure that their upcoming transfer of authority occurs without a hitch, the 1st Infantry and 42nd Infantry divisions held a day-long Relief In Place rehearsal in Tikrit Dec. 5.

The 42ID, which is an arm of the New York Army National Guard, is scheduled to take control of North Central Iraq by the end of February for a yearlong tour of duty. The 1ID has been in-country since February of this year.

The "Rainbow Division" is the first National Guard contingent to be in charge of an entire area of operation in the Middle East.

About 200 leaders, including both commanding generals from the divisions, filled Forward Operation Base Danger's theater for the rehearsal.

In the days leading to the dry run, each 42nd ID brigade and battalion commander shadowed his 1ID counterpart, and both drafted a plan. The commanders presented their plans during the rehearsal, and the generals approved them or made suggestions for improvements.

The plans presented to Maj. Gen. John Batiste of the 1ID and the 42nd ID's Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto included troops' rest plan, movement from Kuwait to Iraq and the 1ID's withdrawal from Iraq.

Prior to the plan presentations, 1ID officials gave the 42ID a brief overview of the area of operations, which includes five provinces. The Big Red One also briefed the Rainbow Soldiers on the various tribes in each province, their economical status, population, the supply routes and the like.

Also discussed were the capabilities of the enemy, tendencies, trends, lessons learned and the various attacks insurgents have launched against coalition forces.

The 1ID Soldiers told their 42ID counterpart about challenges the Big Red One faced and lessons it learned the past year.

"(The rehearsal) is all about sharing good ideas," Batiste told the throng of Rainbow and Big Red One Soldiers. He urged the 42ID to use force against the enemy whenever necessary, but the goal should be to end the violence because the vast majority of Iraqis want peace.

The Rainbow Division headquarters mobilized in early June and came to Tikrit to do a reconnaissance, get acquainted with the area and learn from the 1ID, Taluto said.

In mid June, another headquarters team - mainly the division support command returned for another reconnaissance. Then in July the brigade and battalion commanders conducted a leaders' reconnaissance.

Taluto and his staff returned in August for a third reconnaissance and continued to work closely with the 1ID commanders and staffs.

"Our reconnaissance has been constant and consistent, and I think it has been worth every effort," Taluto said in July. "We owe a real debt of gratitude to the 1st Infantry Division for the way it's received us. It's been wonderful and professional in every sense of the word."

Because the division was comprised of units from 26 states, MacArthur made the statement, "This division stretches across the land like a rainbow," and the 42nd ID became known as the Rainbow Division.

The 42nd ID stretches across nine states, but 67 percent of its Soldiers are located in New York and New Jersey.

(Editor's note: Spc. Ismail Turay Jr. serves with the 196th MPAD)


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