By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, June 11, 2007
HOHENFELS, Germany – When it deploys to Iraq in August, the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment will replace 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which recently moved from Mosul to Baghdad.
The 3rd “Arrowhead” Brigade is working in Baghdad alongside Iraqi forces and extra U.S. troops brought in as part of the “surge” to try to calm sectarian violence.
Lt. Col. Bryan Denny, deputy commander of 2nd Cav, (which, before it was renamed last year, was the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division) said Thursday that the regiment is used to following in the footsteps of 3rd Brigade, which also uses eight-wheeled Stryker armored personnel carriers.
“They are the same unit we replaced in October 2004 in Mosul. So in some ways, it is very familiar to us,” he said.
In preparation for the Iraq mission, 2nd Cav is learning techniques, tactics and procedures that have worked for 3rd Brigade in Iraq, he said.
But the 2nd Cav isn’t necessarily headed for Baghdad. Denny said 3rd Brigade may move before 2nd Cav deploys in August. And 2nd Cav might move several times after it hits the ground in Iraq, he added.
“We don’t know where they will end up. There is talk of them moving. We are not focused on any specific piece of terrain in Iraq. Wherever we go, we won’t stay. I anticipate moving a few times depending on where the Army needs us,” he said.
When 3rd Brigade left Mosul, the unit’s commander, Col. Steven Townsend, said in a press statement that Iraqi forces were strong enough to take control of the city.
Moving around Iraq will be no problem for the Strykers, Denny said. “This unit is flexible. With a 52-gallon gas tank and range of 300 miles we are well set up to move,” he said.
2nd Cav leaders hope to match the unit’s efforts last time downrange when soldiers supervised elections in Mosul, resulting in a Valorous Unit award for the regiment, one of three handed out in the conflict so far, Denny said.
About a third of 2nd Cav soldiers are veterans of the previous mission and most of the officers are combat veterans, he said.
2nd Cav soldiers training for the mission at Hohenfels’ Joint Multinational Readiness Center last week appeared eager to go downrange.
Company D, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cav commander Capt. Douglas Willig, 28, of Fort Wayne, Ind., said he’d experienced moving from one area of operations to another while serving in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. “I was in downtown Baghdad but shifted neighborhoods when I moved from being an infantry platoon leader to a brigade scout platoon leader. The area I was responsible for tripled in size,” he said.
Another Company D soldier, Pfc. Shane Bourbon, 20, of Granite City, Ill., said he’s excited about his first tour to Iraq. “I’ve got friends who have been there over a year now. It is time for them to go home and us to take their place,” he said.
Bourbon said his biggest fear is that friends within his unit will get hurt downrange. At least, he said, the Stryker is “the No. 1 vehicle to ride in, the most safe.”
“And the vehicle commanders are the best guys we have got,” he said.