2nd Infantry Division (United States) - History - Operation Iraqi Freedom

Operation Iraqi Freedom

From November 2003 to November 2004, the 3rd Brigade Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the sands of Iraq the 3rd Brigade Stryker Brigade Combat Team proved the value of the Stryker brigade concept in combat and logistics operations.

During the late spring of 2004, many of the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division's 2d Brigade Combat Team were given notice that they were about to be ordered to further deployment, with duty in Iraq. Units involved in this call-up included: 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Air Assault); 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment (Air Assault); 2d Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment; 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment (Mechanized); 44th Engineer Battalion; 2nd Forward Support Battalion; Company A, 102nd Military Intelligence Battalion; Company B, 122nd Signal Battalion, elements of the 2d Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, a team from the 509th Personnel Services Battalion, and B Battery 5th Battalion 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (Deployed as a combination of mechanized infantry and light infantry with two platoons of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 1 platoon of armored HMMWVs). The time of the first notice of deployment to the actual "wheels-up" exit of the peninsula was very short. As such, an extreme amount of training was conducted by the brigade as they switched from a focus of the foreign defense of South Korea to the more offensive operations that were going to be needed in action in Iraq. Furthermore, time was given for the majority of the soldiers to enjoy ten days of leave. This was vital: many of the soldiers had been in South Korea for a year or more with only two weeks or less time in the United States during their stay of duty. More, they were about to depart on a deployment that was scheduled to last at least another year. Finally, in the beginning of August 2004, the brigade deployed to Iraq.

Upon landing in country, the 2d BCT was given strategic command to much of the sparsely populated area south and west of Fallujah. Their mission, however, changed when the major strategic actions began to take place within the city proper. At this time, the brigade combat team was refocused and given control of the eastern half of the volatile city of Ar-Ramadi. Within a few weeks of taking over operational control from the previous units, 2n Brigade began experiencing violent activity that began the WIA and KIA toll. Many of the units had to physically move to new camps in support of this new mission. The primary focus of the 2d BCT for much of their deployment was the struggle to gain local support and to minimize casualties.

The brigade was spread out amongst many camps. To the west of the city of Ar-Ramadi sat the camp of Junction City. 2ID units stationed there included: HQ 2d BCT, 2nd ID; 2–17th Field Artillery; 1–9th Infantry; 44th Engineer Battalion; Company A, 102d Military Intelligence Battalion; Company B, 122d Signal Battalion, and Company C (Medical), 2d Forward Support Battalion. To the eastern end of the city sat a much more austere camp, known ironically as the Combat Outpost. This was home to the 1-503d Infantry Regiment. East of them but outside of the city proper itself was the town of Habbiniya and the 1–506th Infantry Regiment. Adjacent to this camp was the logistically important camp of Al-Taqaddum, where the 2d Forward Support Battalion was stationed.

For this mission, the brigade fell under the direct command not of the 2d Infantry Division, but rather the Marine unit that was in control at the time. For the first six months while in Ramadi, the BCT fell under to the 1st Marine Division. For the second half of the deployment, they were attached to the 2nd Marine Division. While the Marines do not wear unit patches on their uniforms, the units of the 2d BCT involved are authorized to now wear any of the following combat patches: the 2nd Infantry Division patch, the 1st Marine Division unit patch or the 2nd Marine Division unit patch.

The 2d Brigade Combat Team was in action in the city of Ramadi for many historical events but most notably the Iraqi national elections of January 2005. Much manpower and effort was put into stabilizing the city for this event. While the voting went off without a hitch and little to no violence was seen within the city, a minimal amount of voters participated (estimated to be in the 700 person range for the eastern half of the city, according to 2nd BCT officials). While the numbers left something to be desired, the BCT noted the lack of violence as a sign of success.

The 2d BCT also left its mark on the area in other ways. They built several new camps within the city. For security reasons, many are left unverified, however ones that can be confirmed include Camps Trotter and Corregidor built to ease the burden on the accommodations at Combat Outpost.

In July 2005, the brigade began to get relieved by units of the United States National Guard, as well as the 3d Infantry Division of the Regular Army. Six months into the deployment, the units of the 2d BCT were given word that they would not be returning to South Korea but, rather, to Fort Carson, Colorado in an effort to restructure the Army and house more soldiers on American soil.

From June 2006 to September 2007, the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the 3rd Stryker Brigade's second deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom their mission was to assist the Iraqi security forces with counter-insurgency operations in the Ninewa Province. 46 soldiers from the brigade lost their lives during the deployment.

On 1 June 2006 at Fort Lewis, Washington the 4th Brigade, 2d Infantry Division was formed. From April 2007 to July 2008 the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team was deployed in as part of the surge to regain control of the situation in Iraq. The brigade assumed responsibility for the area north of Baghdad and the Diyala province. 35 soldiers from the brigade lost their lives during the deployment.

From October 2006 to January 2008, the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Carson, Colorado in support of the Multi-National Division – Baghdad (1st Cavalry Division) and was responsible for assisting the Iraqi forces to become self-reliant, bringing down the violence and insurgency levels and supporting the rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure. 43 soldiers from the brigade lost their lives during the deployment.

SSG Christopher B. Waiters of the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on 23 October 2008 for his actions on 5 April 2007 when he was a Specialist. Shortly after SPC Erik Oropeza of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division was also awarded the DSC for his actions on 22 May 2007. Thus the division will be credited with the 17th and 18th Distinguished Service Cross awardings since 1975.

The 2nd Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2009.

3rd Brigade deployed to Iraq 4 August 2009 for the brigade's third deployment to Iraq, the most of any Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT).

Read more about this topic:  2nd Infantry Division (United States), History

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