Friday, April 4, 2008

2-69th Armor Regtiment Reintegrates With 3rd Brigade Combat Team

Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince George's County, Md., commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, talks to Soldiers and leaders of 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, March 28 at Forward Operating Base Rustimiyah, Iraq.

By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – After spending the entire deployment detached from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, leaders of 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment are planning the unit’s reintegration into the brigade.

The 2-69th Armor Regt. was attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, out of Fort Carson, Colo., when they deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2007. The unit resided at Forward Operating Base Rustimiyah in Baghdad, directly across the Diyala River from 3rd BCT’s area of operation.

The 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. was replaced December 2007 by the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), from Fort Polk, La.

According to Maj. Dean Bushnell, from Atmore, Ala., 2-69th Armor Regt. executive officer, the battalion had no difficulty readjusting to the new unit in command.

“Both brigades we worked with did a great job integrating us and made us part of their family,” he said.

During their deployment, the unit has conducted 3,494 combat patrols, 605 route clearance missions, 707 combined patrols with members of the Iraqi Security Forces, found 69 improvised explosive devices and explosively formed projectiles, and seized 19 weapons caches as of March 26.

As of March 19, 2-69th Armor Regt. Soldiers had conducted 21 medical operations and 21 medical engagements and assessments. Three hundred and three Soldiers re-enlisted and unit Soldiers earned 1,810 awards.

Despite being a separate battalion attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Inf. Div. and the 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI), Bushnell said they were never treated as the “odd balls.” On FOB Rustimiyah there were many units who were detached from their brigade, he explained.

FOB Rustimiyah is in close proximity to FOB Hammer, where 3rd HBCT headquarters is located. An approximate 30-minute convoy can easily move Soldiers between the two bases.

“We’ve stayed connected the entire time to the brigade,” Bushnell said. “We’ve participated in commanders meetings. Our Soldiers have been recognized by the brigade, and Col. Grigsby (3rd BCT commander) visited frequently.”

Bushnell said leaders and 2-69th Armor Regt. Soldiers knew the plan to detach them from the brigade shortly before they deployed. Redeploying the battalion with the brigade had always been the plan and a liaison officer has been at FOB Hammer to help keep the 2-69th Armor Regt. up-to-date on all redeployment tasks.

“The liaison has been our representative on Hammer,” Bushnell said. “He’s gone to all the meetings. He keeps us up on all the redeployment gates, the taskings, the classes…There are six of our guys who are at Hammer taking the HAZMAT (hazardous material) class right now.”

Bushnell believes there will be no problems getting the Soldiers of the 2-69th Armor Regt. mentally reintegrated with the brigade upon their arrival to Fort Benning.

“Even though we were working with a different brigade,” he said, “we’ve always upheld the high Hammer standards.”

The 2-69th Armor Regt. is currently attached to 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI). The unit is assigned to 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.

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