Bringing it (it being counterinsurgency forces) all back home.The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team gets reassigned to the USA as part of Northern Command's on-call federal military response force.
Army News reports
The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of
the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping
restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.
Now they're training for the same mission -- with a twist -- at home.
Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control
of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as
an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies
and disasters, including terrorist attacks.
It is not the first
time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August
2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi
and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts
and mobilized to those areas.
But this new mission marks the
first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to
NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and
control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense
support of civil authorities.
After 1st BCT finishes its
dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed,
active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a
"Right now, the response force requirement will be
an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source
that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NorthCom, that
could change in the future," said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of
NorthCom future operations. "Now, the plan is to assign a force every
The command is at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado
Springs, Colo., but the soldiers with 1st BCT, who returned in April
after 15 months in Iraq, will operate out of their home post at Fort
Stewart, Ga., where they'll be able to go to school, spend time with
their families and train for their new homeland mission as well as the
counterinsurgency mission in the war zones.
Stop-loss will not be
in effect, so soldiers will be able to leave the Army or move to new
assignments during the mission, and the operational tempo will be
Don't look for any extra time off, though. The at-home
mission does not take the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments
and will take place during the so-called dwell time a unit gets to
reset and regenerate after a deployment.
The 1st of the 3rd is
still scheduled to deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan in early 2010,
which means the soldiers will have been home a minimum of 20 months by
the time they ship out.
In the meantime, they'll learn new
skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more
than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.
be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal
with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos
in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or
high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.
Training for homeland
scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty
tasks such as knowing how to use the "jaws of life" to extract a person
from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident;
and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with
chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.
1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal
package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger
Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and
nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals
without killing them.
"It's a new modular package of nonlethal
capabilities that they're fielding. They've been using pieces of it in
Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated
and this package fielded, and because of this mission we're undertaking
we were the first to get it."
The package includes equipment to
stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or
controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.
was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered," said Cloutier,
describing the experience as "your worst muscle cramp ever -- times 10
throughout your whole body.
"I'm not a small guy, I weigh 230 pounds ... it put me on my knees in seconds."
brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the
next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF
"I can't think of a more noble mission
than this," said Cloutier, who took command in July. "We've been all
over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to
take care of citizens at home ... and depending on where an event
occurred, you're going home to take care of your home town, your loved
While soldiers' combat training is applicable, he said, some nuances don't apply.
we go in, we're going in to help American citizens on American soil, to
save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore
normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it's
kind of a different role," said Cloutier, who, as the division
operations officer on the last rotation, learned of the homeland
mission a few months ago while they were still in Iraq.
brigade elements will be on call around the clock, during which time
they'll do their regular marksmanship, gunnery and other deployment
training. That's because the unit will continue to train and reset for
the next deployment, even as it serves in its CCMRF mission.
personnel be needed at an earthquake in California, for example, all or
part of the brigade could be scrambled there, depending on the extent
of the need and the specialties involved.
Other branches included
The active Army's new dwell-time mission is part of a NorthCom and DOD response package.
soldiers will be part of a force that includes elements from other
military branches and dedicated National Guard Weapons of Mass
Destruction-Civil Support Teams.
A final mission rehearsal
exercise is scheduled for mid-September at Fort Stewart and will be run
by Joint Task Force Civil Support, a unit based out of Fort Monroe,
Va., that will coordinate and evaluate the interservice event.
addition to 1st BCT, other Army units will take part in the two-week
training exercise, including elements of the 1st Medical Brigade out of
Fort Hood, Texas, and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg,
There also will be Air Force engineer and medical units, the
Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy
weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the
Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
One of the things Vogler said they'll be looking at is communications capabilities between the services.
is a concern, and we're trying to check that and one of the ways we do
that is by having these sorts of exercises. Leading up to this, we are
going to rehearse and set up some of the communications systems to make
sure we have interoperability," he said.
"I don't know what
America's overall plan is -- I just know that 24 hours a day, seven days
a week, there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are
standing by to come and help if they're called," Cloutier said. "It
makes me feel good as an American to know that my country has dedicated
a force to come in and help the people at home."
Thanks to Chris Bray