Fort Stewart Community
Reorganization in 2003 Transform Stewart
The U.S. Army embarked upon what is described as its most important and controversial reorganization in decades in an effort to improve its ability to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while defending the homefront. These changes will affect virtually every Soldier in the services. The Army asked the 3rd Infantry Division to rethink how it puts brigade combat teams together to fight conflicts. Before, the division assembled a mix of three armor and infantry battalions and a battalion each of engineers, artillery and support to go along with smaller units to send to the field to fight.
At that time, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, chose to reorganize the 3rd Infantry Division first after it led U.S. forces across the southern Iraqi desert and into Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The reorganized 3rd Infantry Division would determine how the rest of the Army shapes it’s units to be modular. The division’s new units were organized under Schoomaker’s guidance. The changes broke some habitual relationships. In the last war, some brigade commanders had as many as nine battalions. Most maneuver Soldiers don’t notice much of a difference, at least for two or three levels above them.
For instance, instead of the division’s 3rd Forward Support Battalion normally being associated with the 1st Brigade commander, the 1st Brigade now has two combat maneuver support battalions, one reconnaissance squadron, and one support battalion with transportation, supplies and maintenance specialists, according to Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., 3rd Infantry Division commander under whom these changes occurred. The unit also has artillery, engineer and military police. And they are a permanent part of this organization, so the team can build itself for a contingency without doing what has been done so much in the past.
In the past, the team was organized by task and sent separate units to meet selected mission goals. Now there is a generic unit that is capable of doing almost any task. The present notion is of having two kinds of combat brigades, light and heavy armor. The 3rd Infantry Division is mostly focused on the heavier units because it’s a mechanized Army division already. However, the 4th BCT was transformed into a light infantry brigade in 2008.
The division has the capability of bringing in modular elements, such as chemical warfare, long-range fires and sustainment forces, if needed. Also staying put in 1st HBCT, 2nd HBCT and 3rd HBCT are the division’s tanks and Bradleys. The division, however, now has some lighter-skinned vehicles, such as the Stryker wheeled vehicle. The tanks and Bradleys will be a part of the Army’s complement for a while, especially in Iraq, where insurgents and guerillas had a tendency to target softer-skinned vehicles.
The installation was not expected to lose a lot of Soldiers. The Stewart population was expected to remain the same and troop strength levels were expected to remain steady for the next couple of years. The division would grow two to three years after the transformations took root and when the Training and Doctrine Command came up with recommended improvements. Reorganization occurred at different timelines because the division had to train Soldiers to fight inside a new structure and also equip these new forces at the same time. Modularity is really about redesigning the whole Army, Webster said.
3rd Infantry Division Returns
for Operation Iraqi Freedom 3
With the major conflicts of 2003 recorded in the history books, the 3rd Infantry Division again marked another chapter by returning to the scenes of Iraq for OIF 3. The 3rd Infantry Division officially jumped back into action Feb. 27, 2005, when a Transition of Authority ceremony was held to hand over the command of Task Force Baghdad from Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, 1st Cavalry Division “First Team” commander, to Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., 3rd Infantry Division commander, at the Sahet Alihtifalat Alkubra (Ceremonial Circle) parade grounds. The 3rd ID became the first Army division to serve a second tour in Iraq.
Upon taking command of Task Force Baghdad, Webster acknowledged the responsibility being given to him and the Marne Soldiers and accepted the mission at hand. The division immediately began to conduct full-spectrum operations. As a part of Task Force Baghdad’s multiforce division, operations included everything from peacekeeping and presence patrols on foot or armored humvees, all the way up to high-intensity combat with tanks, Bradleys and attack helicopters when necessary.
They were responsible for conducting offensive and defensive operations for stability and security and for conducting civil military operations for the Iraqi people. All of this was designed to defeat the insurgents to help the Iraqi government stand up on its own and have a secure environment in which the Iraqi people could live.
During this deployment, the division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team was organized and became the first cohesive brigade combat team sent directly into combat by the Army. The 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment from the California National Guard served as one of its two infantry battalions, and there was an attachment from the Hawaii National Guard, the 2/299th Infantry. The 48th BCT from the Georgia National Guard also served with the 3rd ID, covering the area south of Baghdad.
The 3rd ID redeployed to Fort Stewart and Fort Benning in January and February 2006, then in November, the Army announced the 3rd ID was scheduled to return to Iraq in 2007, making it the first Army division to serve a third tour in Iraq, this time to lead “The Surge.”
3rd Infantry Division Leads the Surge
In a January 2007 speech to the nation, President George W. Bush said he was committing an additional 20,000 troops to the Baghdad area in order to “help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.” Although the plan was officially called “The New Way Forward,” it would come to be known as “The Surge.”
The need for the surge was self-evident. Iraq was in a state of civil war, due to a Sunni/al-Qaida alliance bent on bringing down the mostly Shia-led government. Although this alliance would be short-lived, its effect on the country was already devastating. Iraq’s infrastructure was in shambles. Roads, bridges and whole city blocks were destroyed. Schools and hospitals were closed. The economy also was terrible, with joblessness leading to more unrest. Police forces were corrupt, at best, and some were downright criminal in their activities. Order was needed, and the 3rd ID was just the unit to get the job done. Following the president’s “surge” speech, the unit’s mission changed. The 3rd ID was to form the Multi-National Division-Center.
Marne Division Returns to Iraq
The 1st Brigade Combat Team, “The Raiders,” was the first unit from the 3rd ID to return to Iraq, deploying in late January 2007 to join forces with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the most western part of the Anbar province, near the towns of Ramadi and Fallujah.
In April 2007, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the “Sledgehammer Brigade,” became the first Marne Division brigade to become part of Multi-National Division-Center, led by 3rd ID Commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch. The Sledgehammers set up shop in the open desert on the east bank of the Tigris River on the northern edge of the Anbar province. By the end of May, the 2nd BCT “Spartans” and the 3rd Sustainment Brigade joined other Marne units, setting up in a desert region southeast of Baghdad. Soon, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade “Falcons” would become part of the MND-C. The 4th BCT, “Vanguard Brigade,” joined the rest of the Marne Division in November 2007, replacing the 4th BCT (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
By the end of March 2008, the Raider Brigade had cased its colors in Ramadi and was headed home after 15 long, hard-fought months. The area once claimed by al-Qaida as an Islamic caliphate was now quiet and peaceful. Throughout the summer, each of the 3rd ID’s battle-hardened brigades would case their colors and come home to families and supporters eager to see and hug each of its Soldiers.
The government of Iraq was now conducting independent military operations against state enemies, regardless of the location or sectarian affiliation. In 15 months of operations, Task Force Marne had completed 13 division-size operations as the MND-C, detaining more than 5,000 extremists and clearing more than 1,800 improvised explosive devises. The division helped the Iraqi economy with more than $190 million and nearly 1,500 building projects, to include hospitals, health clinics and schools. Most important, there had been a 90 percent reduction in all forms of attacks, with a 23 percent decrease in civilian casualties and 80 percent decrease in MND-C casualties.
A New Mission
and Another Reorganization
After its troops returned from block leave following their redeployment, the 1st BCT’s Raiders received a new mission. In December 2008, the Raiders were tasked as one of five active-duty brigades to serve as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive first responders. Known as CBRNE units, the 1st BCT was the first active-duty unit tasked to support civilian authorities in the event of a terrorist attack.
Following their return from Iraq and time with families, the 4th BCT began training for a new mission that included reorganization. The Vanguards were being transformed from a heavy brigade combat team to a light infantry brigade combat team. The unit said goodbye to its Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, replacing them with lighter, faster vehicles that can move its 3,500 Soldiers to battlefield environments heavy infantry cannot access. The unit was officially redesignated as a light combat infantry brigade in September 2009.
3rd Infantry Division Returns
for Fourth Iraqi Deployment
Under the new modular organization, the 3rd Infantry Division deployed its headquarters and brigade combat teams to different locations and times throughout 2009 and 2010. Major events during this period were the national parliamentary elections in March 2010, the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn in September 2010, and, for the Division Headquarters and 2nd Brigade, the establishment of the Combined Security Mechanism, a tripartite security agreement bringing together the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish peshmerga. This series of deployments marked the fourth time the division deployed to Iraq, the most of any division.
The Division Special Troops Battalion served as the core of Multi-National Division-North (later United States Division-North) from November 2009 to November 2010.
1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team served in Baghdad from January to December 2010.
2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team served in Ninewa from November 2009 to October 2010.
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team served in five different provinces south of Baghdad.
The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, following its conversion in 2009 from a heavy brigade combat team, deployed to Anbar province in the summer of 2010.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in November 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom X. While in Afghanistan, Task Force Falcon also commanded subordinate aviation units from Afghanistan, Poland, Czech Republic, Korea and France, as well as various American fixed-wing aircraft. During this time, the aviators of Marne Air flew in excess of 150,000 combat flight hours, more than any other multifunctional aviation brigade in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. All missions were completed in some of the harshest weather and over the most challenging terrain imaginable.
Operation New Dawn
Changes Mission in Iraq
By summer 2010, nearly the entire division had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. But the mission of the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq was about to change.
On Sept. 1, the president announced that American “combat operations” in Iraq were officially over, to be replaced by “stability operations” and “security force assistance” as part of Operation New Dawn.
As part of stability operations, 3rd Infantry Division units in Iraq were to serve as a third-party armed force to help the host nation (Iraq) protect its population. As a part of security force assistance, they were to help the host nation security force improve its capabilities to defend itself, its people and its territory by advising, training and assisting its security forces.
When announcing the new mission, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, Task Force Marne commander in Iraq, thanked all military members, including those in the 3rd Infantry Division, who assisted in the drawdown. By Sept. 1, 2010, they had already:
Shipped more than 3,000 vehicles and 3,400 shipping containers full of equipment back to the United States, to Afghanistan or to American forces elsewhere.
Returned nearly $1 billion in equipment to the Army supply system.
Closed or returned to Iraqi control 26 operating bases.
Formally transferred $20 million of equipment to the Iraq government.
Cucolo said, “It is only fitting that Marne Soldiers played such a significant role in the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the start of Operation New Dawn. After all, it was the Dog Face Soldier who led the charge up the Euphrates River Valley in 2003 culminating in the ‘Thunder Run’ into Baghdad that toppled the regime of a brutal dictator. After the 3rd Division’s three tough deployments here, this fourth deployment (Operation New Dawn) allows us to help our former adversaries work toward becoming an effective and apolitical armed force for a civilian-led democracy in the Middle East.”