The 10th Mountain Division
The 10th Light Division was constituted July 10, 1943, and activated July 15, at Camp Hale, Colorado. The 10th Light Division was re-designated the 10th Mountain Division on Nov. 6, 1944. By January 1945, the division was executing combat operations in Northern Italy. During these operations, the 10th Mountain Division seized German positions on Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere, breaking through the German mountain defenses into the Po River Valley. During the division’s combat actions April 14, Pfc. John D. Magrath became the division’s first Soldier to receive the Medal of Honor. The division sustained nearly 5,000 casualties during World War II, with 999 Soldiers killed in action. The division was opposed by 100,000 German troops yet destroyed five German divisions as effective combat units, unhinging the German defense in Italy and drawing German forces away from other theaters.
Following the German surrender, the 10th Mountain Division deployed with troops from Yugoslavia to the Italian border near Trieste, in support of Mission Udine. The division was inactivated on Nov. 30, 1945, at Camp Carson, Colorado. However, to meet the Army’s requirements to train large numbers of replacements, the 10th Infantry was reactivated as a training division July 1, 1948, at Fort Riley, Kanas. In January 1954, the Department of the Army announced the 10th Infantry Division would become a combat infantry division with rotations to Europe. Stretched in an arc from Frankfurt to Nuremburg, the 10th occupied a strategic center position in the NATO defense forces until it was replaced in 1958 by the 3rd Infantry Division in Germany. The division was inactivated at Fort Benning, Georgia, on June 14, 1958.
The modern 10th Mountain Division (LI) was reactivated at Fort Drum on Feb. 13, 1985, as one of several new U.S. Army “Light Infantry” divisions. It was designed to meet a wide range of worldwide missions, adding a new dimension to the strategic mobility of the armed forces. The division’s rapid mobility enabled the arrival of troops in a crisis area before conflict began and demonstrated U.S. resolve and capability. The 10th Mountain Division (LI) was designed to reassure friends and allies while deterring adversaries, even as the division executed normal training activities in the United States.
Although the 10th Mountain Division (LI) did not deploy to Southwest Asia as a unit, approximately 1,200 division Soldiers deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in support of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division in Iraq. The largest unit to deploy was the 548th Supply and Services Battalion with approximately 1,000 Soldiers. After Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) assumed responsibility for providing disaster relief as Task Force Mountain. Division Soldiers set up relief camps; distributed food, clothing, medical necessities and building supplies; and helped rebuild homes and clear debris. On Dec. 3, 1992, the division headquarters was designated the headquarters for all Army Forces of the Unified Task Force for Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. The division’s mission was to secure major cities and roads to provide safe passage for relief supplies to the starving Somali population. On Oct. 3, 1993, a 10th Mountain Division (LI) quick reaction force secured the ground evacuation route for Special Operations Task Force Ranger during the Battle of Mogadishu. The division next deployed as Multinational Force Haiti and Joint Task Force 190 during Operation Uphold Democracy in 1994. When President Aristide returned to Haiti on Oct. 15, 1994, his security was provided by the 10th Mountain Division (LI).
Between 1997 and 2001, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) continued to support peacekeeping and peace-enforcement operations around the world, serving with the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai Desert to monitor the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. In the fall of 1998, the division received notice that it would serve as senior headquarters of Task Force Eagle, providing a peacekeeping force to support the ongoing operation within the Multinational Division North areas of responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Since the start of operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers have continuously committed to the fight, performing with distinction and valor. From 2001 to the present, 10th Mountain Division (LI) brigades have deployed in support of operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and Enduring Freedom 23 times. First Brigade, the Warriors, have deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq twice. Second Brigade, the Commandos, have deployed to Afghanistan three times and Iraq three times. Third Brigade, the Spartans, have deployed to Afghanistan four times. 4th Brigade, the Patriots, deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq once. Tenth Combat Aviation Brigade, the Falcons, have deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq once. 10th Sustainment Brigade, the Muleskinners, have deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq once. The division headquarters has deployed five times to Afghanistan and once to Iraq.
In 2001, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) provided the first conventional combat forces to deploy in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Division Soldiers secured key forward operating bases in Uzbekistan and deployed into Afghanistan as the first conventional force to reinforce special operations units on the ground. During Operation Anaconda in March 2002, elements of the division headquarters commanded more than 1,700 U.S. and 1,000 Afghan troops in the Shahikot Valley, including the 1st Battalion of the 87th Infantry Regiment. U.S. forces estimated 500 fighters were killed during the battle.
Elements from across the division returned to Afghanistan in 2003. The division headquarters assumed command and control of Coalition Joint Task Force 180, supervising fighting brigades throughout Afghanistan. The division’s 1st Brigade joined other coalition forces conducting combat operations to eliminate remaining terrorist elements in the region and provide security and humanitarian relief efforts to the Afghan people. The 2nd Brigade provided forces as part of Task Force Phoenix to train the Afghan National Army. The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed for the first time to Afghanistan, providing aviation support for all U.S. Army units operating in the country. During 2003, more than 6,000 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers deployed in support of the war on terrorism.
In July 2004, only six months after returning from Afghanistan, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The brigade secured the contested areas of western Baghdad for the national elections, preventing enemy attacks from disrupting the first Iraqi democratic election held Jan. 31. During the same period, following the return of the division headquarters and 1st Brigade from Afghanistan, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) began the transformation process into a modular division. The division officially transformed into a modular unit during a ceremony Sept. 13, 2004. As part of the ceremony, seven units were inactivated and 13 activated, including the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The 4th Brigade Combat Team was activated at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Jan. 16, 2005.
In August 2005, the 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to western Baghdad, Iraq. The brigade was responsible for security during the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum and the Dec. 15 national election. The division headquarters, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and two Battalion Task Forces from the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. The division headquarters assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force 76 and supervised operations to defeat enemy extremist movements, establish enduring security and set conditions for long-term stability in Afghanistan. During 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s deployment, Soldiers executed four significant combat operations during 12 months in the Pech Valley, Kunar Province, Helmand Province and throughout eastern Afghanistan. While serving in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti became the division’s second Soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor during combat operations in Nuristan Province on June 21, 2006.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team again deployed to Iraq in August 2006, moving into an area known as the “Triangle of Death” for a 15-month deployment as a part of the Iraqi surge. In winter 2006, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed again to Afghanistan as the only aviation brigade in the theater, providing aviation support for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) throughout the country. The 10th Sustainment Brigade also deployed to Afghanistan during 2006. As a part of Task Force Muleskinner and the Joint Logistics Command, the brigade assumed the vital mission of tracking and coordinating the movement of supplies, equipment and personnel throughout the region.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team returned to Iraq in 2007, conducting stability and security operations in northern Iraq and training the Sons of Iraq to protect their neighborhoods from insurgent violence. In 2008, the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq and was involved with coordinating and fighting large-scale operations including Operation Phantom Phoenix. The headquarters of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) deployed to Iraq for the first time in April 2008. The division served as the command element for southern Baghdad until late March 2009, when it displaced to Basra to coordinate security for Multinational Division (South). In the fall of 2008, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 10th Sustainment Brigade also deployed to Iraq. The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade conducted personnel movements, resupplies, air assaults, medical evacuations, security and attack operations to Multinational Division (North). The 10th Sustainment Brigade orchestrated sustainment support for more than 140,000 Soldiers, Marines and civilians.
In January 2009, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Logar and Wardack provinces in Afghanistan, guarding the southern approaches to Kabul and bringing much-needed security to both provinces.
Capt. William D. Swenson became the division’s third Soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions Sept. 8, 2009, during the Battle of Ganjagal in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Swenson’s actions are credited with saving more than a dozen lives while leading a group of Afghan Border Police in support of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) at the time of the battle.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team completed another tour in Iraq from 2009-2010, during the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn. The 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, as a part of the surge, becoming the first U.S. Army brigade combat team to operate in northern Afghanistan. Both the division headquarters and the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. The division headquarters assumed responsibility for Regional Command (South), while the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade supported coalition operations in Regional Command (East). This was followed by the deployment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team to Regional Command (East), 3rd Brigade Combat Team to Regional Command (South), and the deployment of 10th Sustainment Brigade to Regional Command (East) in 2011.
In 2013, elements of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams along with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2014, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Spartan,” deactivated after more than a decade of service to the Global War on Terrorism and the following year, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, “Patriot,” of Fort Polk, Louisiana, became the new 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Patriot.”
In addition, the division headquarters and elements of the 10th Sustainment Brigade returned to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as two of the last elements responsible for framing the transition to Operation Resolute Support.
At the end of 2014, the 10th Mountain Division, for the first time since 2003, were positioned with all of its assigned brigades in the continental United States.
In 2015, elements of 1st BCT deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve; elements of 2nd BCT and 3rd BCT along with Division Headquarters deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Resolute Support/Freedom’s Sentinel; elements of 10th CAB deployed to Korea. The 10th Mountain Division Artillery (DIVARTY) activated in October.
In 2016, elements of the Division Headquarters and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team continue to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan.
In 2017, the 63rd Ordnance Battalion inactivated and elements of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to Germany in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. During that mission, several Black Hawk helicopters provided air space security to Air Force One as President Donald Trump traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel. Also in 2017, the Department of Defense announced three- to nine-month deployments for units within the division. Members of 3-10, 3rd Brigade Combat Team will support operations in Iraq. The 1st Brigade Combat Team’s 1-87 will deploy to Afghanistan, and 6-6 Cav, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade will serve in Korea.