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Cone uncases Corps colors, reflects on mission in Iraq

Feb 11, 2011

By Heather Graham-Ashley (Sentinel News-Editor)

FORT HOOD, Texas -- Marking the return from its third deployment to Iraq, III Corps uncased its colors Feb. 10 at the III Corps' headquarters.

After serving one year as the core of United States Forces - Iraq by leading operations in Operation New Dawn, III Corps commander Lt. Gen. Bob Cone and the Corps' senior-enlisted man Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur L. Coleman Jr. uncased the unit colors and thanked the Soldiers and families of III Corps.

Cone assured the families that the time spent away from them was well spent and their Soldiers gave their all, leaving nothing on the field.

"This team did all they could in the time we had, and I know we left Iraq a much better place," Cone said. "III Corps stayed truly focused on seeing a successful outcome and gave it their all."

Their mission in Iraq focused on the day-to-day operations of coalition troops working in conjunction with Iraqi Security Forces as troops transferred from combat to stability operations.

By partnering with their Iraqi counterparts, Corps Soldiers helped establish conditions for a successful Iraq and renewed hope in the prospect of a successful future in Iraq.

Though not entirely certain of the final success in Iraq, Cone said the promise of that success is abundant.

"Our hope is founded in the number of accomplishments we witnessed throughout the year," Cone said.

III Corps troops helped establish the conditions for an unprecedented national election with a 62.4 percent voter turnout, Cone said. In addition, during their deployment, USF-I and III Corps troops helped reduce violence in Iraq to the lowest levels since before the war began eight years ago.

Cone credited USF-I and III Corps Soldiers with completing the "daunting task" of planning and executing the drawdown of troops to 50,000, closure of more than 100 bases and moving one million pieces of equipment, the single largest movement of personnel and equipment since World War II.

In addition, III Corps and USF-I witnessed Iraq's peaceful formation of the nation's first truly representative government and the vastly improved security situation led by Iraqi Security Forces, the general said.

"These and other initiatives helped establish foundations for long-term growth of Iraqi Security Forces," Cone said.

The general expressed immense pride in his Soldiers and their successes.

"I'm extremely proud of the men and women of III Corps," Cone said. "I'm confident we did all we could to set the right conditions for the future of Iraq."

With the successful deployment and sense of hope for Iraq's future in mind, Cone said the more than 500 Fort Hood Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and helped get Iraq to where it is now must not be forgotten.

"We must never fail to honor them," he said.

Cone also remembered the sacrifices made by the families of Soldiers and ensured them their Soldiers were working hard for the Iraqi people.

"The Army never deploys a Soldier," the general said. "The family, in a way, is deployed as well."

He thanked the families for their sacrifice and the community for its support.

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