By: Stefanie Tiso, from wltz.com
The first soldiers from the “Sledgehammer Brigade” left for Iraq on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday afternoon, the brigade came together on Kelley Hill for a casing ceremony. The 3rd Infantry Division Commanding General, Major General Tony Cuculo joined the 3rd Brigade Heavy Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in packing up the flags. Around 3,600 3rd Brigade soldiers from Ft. Benning will head to Iraq to “finish the mission” as Maj. Gen. Cuculo described it. This will be the 3rd Brigade’s fourth deployment to Iraq. The 3rd brigade was the first in the 3rd Infantry Division, in the Middle East prior to the invasion of Iraq. The mission is much different now, than it was then.
“What we’re trying to do now is buying just a little more time for the political machine of Iraq, to get a credible, viable, national level government and provincial governance connection. And the only way that’s going to happen is security,” said Maj. Gen. Cuculo
“I think every commander hopes that you accomplish the mission and you bring everybody back. We’re standing here today and we know it’s not that easy. This brigade, over three deployments has lost 70 soldiers,” explained 3rd Brigade Commander, Colonel Pete Jones.
The 3rd Brigade is slated to deploy for 12 months. Between now and Christmas, 14,000 3rd Infantry Division soldiers from Ft. Benning and Ft. Stewart will hit the ground in Iraq.