The 81st Brigade Combat Team cased its colors in Ramadi, Iraq, on Monday as the Washington National Guard unit prepares to return home.
The brigade of about 3,500 soldiers – about 2,400 of whom are from Washington – served at bases throughout Iraq since November. Most of the unit was tasked with providing security for contractor convoys that keep the American military supplied. The convoys logged more than three million miles on the road.
Other subordinate units were tasked with running day-to-day operations or providing defense for bases. The colors-casing ceremony took place at Camp Ramadi in Anbar province, where the headquarters was running the base’s mayor cell.
“I am in awe of these soldiers,” brigade commander Col. Ronald Kapral said in a press release. “They come from all walks of life, many different professions, and yet when our nation and state called, they answered and performed their duty. We have taken them away from their families, friends and jobs and they did not complain or question.
“We trained at Yakima, Fort McCoy and Kuwait before deploying to Iraq. They have lived in tents, barracks and containerized housing units, trained in temps below freezing to over 130 degrees and still they perform their tasks without question. I will never know why they do this, but I thank God every day we have young Soldiers who volunteer and step up to serve.”
The brigade mobilized in August for its second tour of Iraq; it previously deployed in 2004-05. It trained at Fort McCoy, Wis., and in Kuwait before arriving in Iraq.
One soldier was killed during the tour. Spc. Samuel Stone of Port Orchard died May 30 when his M1117 Armored Security Vehicle rolled over near Tallil.
The soldiers will begin returning home later this month after a de-mobilization process in Wisconsin.
Below is part of the press release that gives a better idea of what each battalion was doing in Iraq:
The 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry (Combined Arms Battalion) conducted convoy security missions out of Joint Base Balad in Balad, Iraq, effectively transporting 110 million gallons of fuel, 600,000 tons of supplies and 120 million gallons of water throughout Iraq. Through expert maintenance operations and Soldier skill, the Soldiers of Alpha Company out of Kent, Wash., Bravo Co. out of Moses Lake, Wash., Charlie Co. out of Bremerton, Wash., Delta Co. out of Pasco, Wash. Echo Co. out of Bellingham, Wash. and Hotel Co. out of Spokane, Wash. traveled more than 1,700,000 miles during their more than 1,800 convoy missions. Two companies from 181st Brigade Support Battalion were attached to 1-161st Inf. (CAB) during the deployment. Alpha Co. out of Seattle, Wash., conducted 1,830 Force Protection operations in and around JBB and also provided safe passage for U.S. and foreign dignitaries throughout Iraq and operational security for the JBB Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Bravo Co., a maintenance company, out of Yakima, Wash., was tasked with convoy security operations on COB Adder in Tallil, Iraq.
1st Battalion 185th Armor, Combined Arms Battalion performed a security force mission throughout Multi National Division-North at COB Speicher near Tikrit, Iraq. The battalion’s three companies provided convoy security support to corps assets, which included Coalition Force operational moves, KBR and third country national logistical convoys. The Soldiers of 1-185th Ar. (CAB) proved their combat readiness, stamina and professionalism by executing more than 1,500 missions, totaling more than 1,000,000 mission miles, throughout MND-N and Multi National Corps-Iraq without incident. Fifty-six Soldiers of Company B, based out of Riverside, Calif., six Soldiers of Company C, based out of Palmdale, Calif., and 49 Soldiers of Company D, based out of Madera, Calif., were awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and Combat Action Badge. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, based out of San Bernardino, Calif., provided command and control for all the missions.
The 1st Squadron 303rd Cavalry Regiment conducted various missions throughout Iraq. Alpha Troop, based out of Puyallup, Wash., conducted more than 240 Combat Logistics Patrols covering more than 48,000 miles from Al Asad Air Base in Anbar Province. During their tenure as a Convoy Security Company, Alpha Troop discovered five Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and provided recovery support to 27 various incidents. Bravo Troop, based out of Kent, Wash., provided protection teams for 10 government agencies, military movement teams for the United Nations Assistance Mission Iraq and military police support at Camp Prosperity in Baghdad. Charlie and Hotel Troop, based out of Bremerton and Kent, Wash., convoyed more than 5,000,000 miles from Al Taqaddum Air Base in Anbar Province, conducting more than 1,760 Combat Logistics Patrols and escorting over 3,400 Kellog, Brown, and Root (KBR) trucks safely to their destinations.
The 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, stationed out of Olympia, Wash., conducted Mayor’s Cell operations on Contingency Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq. During the past nine months, the Soldiers of HHB erected 3,000 concrete barriers and 12,000 HESCO barriers, managed 450 contracted guards and processed 4,200 people for clearance onto the base, greatly improving the base’s defense. They also coordinated 18 entertainment shows, operated 44 logistic projects and managed the housing for the entire base. Alpha Battery, based out of Montesano, Wash., conducted convoy security missions out of COB Marez. After driving more than 200 Convoy Logistical Patrols (CLPs), 18 A Btry Soldiers were awarded the Eagle Eye Army Commendation medal for spotting IEDs. Bravo Battery, stationed out of Longview, Wash., also conducted more than 200 CLPs, 41 recovery missions and drove more than 15,478 total miles. 120 B Btry Soldiers were awarded the combat action badge. Both A and B Batteries were awarded the Combat Action Streamer.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 181st Brigade Support Battalion, based out of Seattle, conducted Mayor’s Cell operations on COB Q-West. They monitored base contracts totaling more than $12,724,000 and instituted a vehicle tracking database on Q-West. They also oversaw new Iraqi businesses and conducted a workshop for hundreds of local sheiks, muqtars and city councilmen during the monthly Souq. They assisted local contractors in the "Iraqi First" initiative, ensuring contractors hired a large percentage of local Iraqi workers and managed more than 35 construction projects totaling more than $2.5 million. They planned and managed the living areas and building assignments for more than 6,000 base tenants, as well as provided military police services for the entire base. They provided more than 150 million gallons of water to the base and built a new waste transfer facility. They also managed all base events such as sports leagues, VIP and entertainer tours, USO tours, base theater, gym, and phone and internet centers.
81st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, based out of Everett and Kent, Wash., conducted Force Protection and Base Defense Operations (BDOC) on COB Qayyarah-West in northern Iraq. The 24-hour BDOC served as the 911 center and monitored security for Q-West and the roughly 7,000 base tenants, and the Force Protection Cell used existing materials and self-help labor to replace gates, repair fencing and redesign entry control points. The Force Protection Company operated the north entry control point at COB Q-West and its surrounding area, to include 25 villages within 330 square kilometers. They completed more than 400 combat patrols, 250 Quick Reaction Force responses and drove more than 30,000 miles through hostile territory. In the course of approximately 25 non-lethal engagements, the company provided basic medical treatment to more than 250 adults and 400 children from the local national population. The military police platoon was detached and carried out a personal security mission in support of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Additionally, the military intelligence company was detached and mobilized to provide human and signals intelligence in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Headquarters Company, 81st Brigade Combat Team, stationed out of Seattle, served as the Camp Command and Mayor’s Cell on Camp Ramadi, a Marine base in Anbar Province. During their nine months, the Soldiers of HQ Co., improved the security for the 4,600 servicemembers of Camp Ramadi by implementing 20 Force Protection projects, rewriting access control policies and introducing a biometric identification system. They also improved the Camp life support by providing Armed Forces Network television in all living and common areas and an education and testing center, developing a 911 phone response system, improving and increasing the housing, placing more than 39,000 tons of gravel, coordinating entertainment shows and activities for the entire camp, running the camp chapel and environmental program and managing more than 65 camp contracts totaling more than $38 million. The Unmanned Areial System platoon flew 1,500 flight hours out of Al Taqaddum, Iraq, providing counter IED support, coverage of key sites during the January 2009 elections and during tactical raids. HQ Co. also postured Camp Ramadi for its eventual turnover to the Government of Iraq and tracked the 3,200 Soldiers of the 81st BCT who were spread across ten bases in Iraq.