Defense

Legendary Army Division Takes Command Of Ground Forces In Iraq

Joseph Lafave Contributor
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The 10th Mountain Division, a U.S. Army light infantry division based out of Fort Drum, New York, has assumed command of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command Operation Inherent Resolve (CJFLCC-OIR) on Monday.

he Army’s 1st Armored Division, known colloquially as “The Iron Soldiers,” was the previous unit to hold that command.

The transfer of authority was carried out in a ceremony conducted at the coalition’s military headquarters in Baghdad. During the ceremony, outcoming commander Maj. Gen. Robert P. White lowered his colors while incoming commander Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt raised his.

Both coalition soldiers and Iraqi forces attended the ceremony. Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, spoke at the ceremony and commended the 1st Armor’s work during their deployment.

“The Iron Soldiers saw the end of the tough fight to seize the crown jewel of [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s] so-called caliphate in Mosul,” said Funk according to a Department of Defense press release. “Life is beginning to stabilize in liberated areas, but the battle against this barbaric enemy is not over.”

Both Funk and White also praised the work of Iraqi forces, who have been working side by side the Americans to defeat ISIS. “Thousands of Iraqi martyrs made this possible,” White said.

The change of command between the 1st Armored and the 10th Mountain is part of a “headquarters consolidation” within CJFLCC-OIR. Army officials said the deployment of the 10th Mountain “represents another step forward in reducing U.S. troop levels in accordance with the request of Iraq’s government.”

The U.S. Army’s mission in Iraq is to train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces in the fight against ISIS and to bring about a safer Iraq. This is similar to the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade’s mission in Afghanistan.

The 10th Mountian has years of experience in the region

Deploying into harm’s way isn’t new for the 10th Mountain, a unit that saw extensive fighting in Italy and Austria during World War II. In 1943, the 10th Mountain, known then as the 10th Light Division (Alpine), fought Nazis in the tough mountain terrain of Italy and later in Austria.

The unit has been deactivated and reactivated twice since the end of World War II, but has been active since 1985 in its current configuration. During the 1990s, the 10th Mountain saw action in Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti,and Bosnia.

The 10th Mountain made its first post-9/11 deployment in 2001 when select elements of the division were sent into Afghanistan. The rest of the division arrived in December of 2001 and January 2002. During 2002, the 10th Mountain participated in Operation Anaconda, the Fall of Mazar-i-Sharif and the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi.

The division redeployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and was responsible for pursuing the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the remote Afghan wilderness. Elements of the 10th Mountain also deployed to Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004.

Impressively, different elements of the 10th Mountain have been almost continually deployed to the Middle East since 2001. This latest deployment to Iraq will be sure to present a unique set of challenges, but the experience the unit has gained as one of the Army’s most seasoned infantry units will be invaluable to Operation Inherent Resolve’s success.