Rakkasan Year in Review
January 7, 2014
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, started 2013 the same way they closed out 2012 -- as a deployed task force, charged with the mission of partnering with the Afghan National Security Forces to advise and assist them in taking control of their country's security.
Working shoulder-to-shoulder with the Afghan forces, the Rakkasans conducted 661 named operations, including 13 Air Assaults, and more than 3,200 unit level patrols with more than 7,000 Afghan counterparts from the Afghan National Army, Afghan Border Police, Afghan Uniform Police, Afghan National Civil Order Police and Afghan Local Police. The Rakkasans' integrated training efforts prepared the ANSF to take the lead on security operations in the summer.
During 3rd BCT's deployment, seven Combat Outposts were transferred to the ANSF. These locations included COP Narizah, COP Bowri Tana, COP Chergotah, COP Terezayi, COP Bak, COP Herrera, Forward Operating Base Justice and five assistance platforms.
In May, the Rakkasans redeployed and reintegrated with their Families and friends.
During the month of July, five battalions conducted change of command ceremonies. 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment's previous commander, Lt. Col. Kelly D. Kendrick passed the guidon to Lt. Col. Marc Cloutier. Lt. Col Pat Work, commander of 3rd Bn., 187th Inf. Regt. conducted a change of command with Lt. Col. Patrick Harkins. 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regt. changed commanders from Lt. Col. Donald Evans to Lt. Col. Jason Curl. Lt. Cols. Shannon J. Mosakowski and Brendan C. Raymond conducted a change of command for 3rd Bn., 320th Field Artillery Regt., and 626th Brigade Support Bn. welcomed their new commander Lt. Col. Charles P. Downie, who succeeded Lt. Col Frederick L. Christ.
On Aug. 1, 3rd BCT conducted its own change of command. Col. J.B. Vowell, who had previously commanded the 2nd Battalion, 327th Inf. Regt. "No Slack," 1st BCT during a 2010 deployment to Afghanistan, assumed command of the Rakkasans from outgoing commander Col. R.J. Lillibridge.
"It has been my privilege to serve as your commander for the last two years," Lillibridge said. "Thank you for all that you have done and what you will continue to do as Rakkasans."
Vowell expressed his appreciation for the brigade as well.
"There is no greater honor in serving our Army than to command Soldiers," Vowell said. "No better way to do that than to command Rakkasans and no better place to command than with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell."
With new commanders in place, Vowell established his priorities of certifying leaders, fielding and training on the new Capability Set-2013 systems, sending Soldiers to career broadening education through the Noncommisioned Officer Education System, preparing and qualifying Soldiers for the Air Assault Badge, and conducting basic Soldier skills qualifications to include weapons and team tactics.
One hundred twenty-seven Rakkasan Soldiers successfully graduated Warrior Leader Course between August and November. The 22-day course emphasizes leadership, duties, responsibilities, and authority of noncommissioned officers.
In the month of September, 1st Bn., 187th Inf. Regt. conducted a team leader training course. The event focused on administrative tasks, such as counselling, monitoring enlisted record briefs for errors and mentoring their junior Soldiers. Rakkasans from the past and present served as instructors for the course.
In the same month, 1st Sqdn. 33rd Cav. Regt. conducted land navigation training. The three-day event focused on weapons recognition, land navigation, team leader training and reconnaissance.
In October, 90 Soldiers participated in a seven-week brigade Fire Support Team certification course and forward observer certification course. This exercise was imperative to train and certify the participants as proficient fire supporters.
Later in October, the 3rd Bn., 320th FA Regt. completed their Table VI M119A2 Howitzer live-fire certification. This exercise qualified artillery sections to engage targets accurately and prepared them to mass fires with larger artillery formations in the future.
On Oct. 31, Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, awarded two Rakkasan units with the Air Assault Streamer. Company B, 3rd Bn., 187th Inf. Regt., and Company D, 1st Bn., 187th Inf. Regt. received the award for ensuring 80 percent of their Soldiers were Air Assault qualified. Since Aug. 1, 3rd BCT prepared 856 Soldiers to successfully achieve the Air Assault badge.
In November, the Soldiers of 626th BSB conducted slingload operations, 1st Sqdn., 33rd Cav. Regt. engaged in mounted reconnaissance training at Fort Knox. and Capt. Jason Burnes, from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Special Troops Bn. broke The Sabalauski Air Assault School's 12-mile foot march record Nov. 21.
The Brigade conducted an Expert Infantry Badge qualification event in December and 1st Sqdn., 33rd Cav. Regt. trained their Soldiers for "Excellence in Armor." Both are prestigious events in the Infantry and armor communities.
The 3rd STB conducted a change of command in early December with Lt. Col. Mark W. Manns passing the guidon to Lt. Col. Zachary L. Miller.
The brigade closed out the training year with a staff exercise at the Kinnard Mission Training Complex. The event familiarized personnel with the new CS-13 and NETT Warrior communication systems being fielded by the Brigade in preparation for its next mission.
In 2013, the Rakkasan Brigade also volunteered many hours of their time to local organizations. This year, the Soldiers of 3rd BCT have offered assistance to Buddy Ball baseball and bowling, the "Walk to Nashville" in support of the Wounded Warrior Project, the Adopt-a-School program, and the WOD, or Workout of the Day, for Paws event benefiting the Clarksville Humane Society to name a few. In October, the Soldiers of 3rd Bn., 320th FA Regt. conducted morning physical training in pink shirts to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition, many current and former Rakkasans continue to make contributions to the local community.
With 2013 concluding, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team continues to plan for what will surely be an eventful 2014. As the next year unfolds, the Rakkasans will continue to train hard for their next Rendezvous with Destiny.