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Black Jack Soldiers carry the "torch" back to Iraq

May 12, 2011

By Sgt. Justin Naylor, 2nd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.

FORT HOOD, Texas-Nothing leads to success as well as being prepared. For a unit deploying this means having Soldiers ready and support channels established well before the main groups begin to arrive overseas.

Soldiers from the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, began departing Fort Hood, Texas, May 11 for Iraq and Kuwait as part of the torch party in preparation for the brigade's upcoming deployment.

According to Maj. Ian Palmer, the brigade executive officer, the torch party sets the conditions for the rest of the personnel and equipment movement. It also establishes liaisons between the brigade and organizations in Iraq and Kuwait that will help with this movement.

The torch party also provides select members of the staff an opportunity to get a head start on working with members of the unit that 2nd BCT will be replacing, explained Palmer.

For the Soldiers that make up the torch party, this is an opportunity to be the first "Black Jack" boots on the ground as the brigade prepares to take part in Operation New Dawn.

"It's a special opportunity to be one of the first Soldiers from the brigade on the ground," explained Maj. Bryan Price, brigade's strategic communications officer. "I think this is a really important part of Iraqi history that we're going to be making."

The country has been at war for eight years and to be part of the last group of Soldiers to leave Iraq really gives us an opportunity to help set the standard for future U.S. and Iraqi partnership, he explained.

"I think that will be our legacy," he said.

Although "Black Jack" is preparing to take on a new and profoundly large mission as it works to close down military installations and elements throughout Iraq, extensive training will help prepare its Soldiers for any challenge they face.

Since returning from its last deployment, "Black Jack" Soldiers have conducted countless training exercises in every subject from returning fire from a convoy to interacting with local Iraqi leaders.

"I'm really confident in the training the Soldiers have received in preparation for this deployment," said Price.

While all this training will help keep Soldiers safe and mission effective downrange, Price felt that nothing is more important to mission success than the families and friends that the Soldiers are leaving here.

"We've gotten tremendous support from the "Black Jack" family, the family readiness group and central Texas," he said. "We're going to count on them to support us while we are downrange, just like they always do. We couldn't do it without them."

With well-trained Soldiers ready to receive the brigade as it begins its deployment and an extensive support structure keeping the home fires burning here, "Black Jack" Soldiers can be confident that their deployment will be nothing but a success.

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