Thursday, May 8, 2008

FOB Hammer Transitions as Troops Return


Once a redeploying Army unit reaches the "right seat, left seat" stage, the transfer of authority to the incoming unit can't be far away.

And that's the case right now at Forward Operating Base Hammer, home, at least for now, to not only the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team from Fort Benning but also to the 1st Armored Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

The official passing of authority in Iraq will take place May 15, 3rd Brigade commander Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr. said.

"We intend to make it a big occasion by inviting our Iraqi friends to meet the new team," Grigsby said. "Until then we'll be working closely with the 2nd Brigade. We'll be in the left seat, driving, for five days, then spend five more observing. In fact, we've already begun that process."

Left seat, right seat is not limited to vehicles. The 3rd Brigade leadership team is also mentoring their successors in every aspect of life in a combat area, one separated from the troubled Sadr City area of Baghdad by only 10 kilometers.

During the transition, Grigsby and Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson have still found time to pass a warning to all 36 companies in the brigade: The enemy is still out there.

"The redeployment process is going very well," said Grigsby via telephone from his office at FOB Hammer. "We monitor all the stories and pictures coming from each homecoming. It really is a time to be happy for our families."

But, he cautions: "To use the words of our (division) commander, we have to keep our dukes up all the way to the end."

As to prove his point, his soldiers, now working alongside a group from the 2nd Brigade, discovered a weapons cache earlier this week belonging to a local criminal group known for targeting Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces in the town of Wardia.

Soldiers with Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, and Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, found the cache through a tip received from Sons of Iraq and National Police sources.

Explosives ordnance disposal soldiers confirmed the cache included three Iranian-made rocket-propelled grenades, three RPG launchers, propellant, multiple trip flares, one heavy machine gun, ski masks and ISF uniforms.

"We're preparing to go home," said Grigsby, "but it's still business as usual until we do."

Seven flights are scheduled to land at Lawson Army Airfield between this evening and May 16. The remainder of the brigade should be back by the end of the month.

No comments: