Strike Year in Review
January 7, 2014
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Strike," 101st Airborne Division, began and ends 2013 with deployments to Afghanistan providing Security Force Assistance Teams.
These SFATs helped to further generate, employ, and sustain the Afghan National Security Forces during the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and its security forces.
The "Strike" advisory teams began to welcome home its heroes beginning in November 2012 and with its final redeploying flight Feb. 9.
"As I look at this group of steely-eyed killers, trainers, warriors, I just want you all to remember that amongst you is a welcome home snuggle bunny," said Brig. Gen. Andrew Poppas, 101st Airborne Division deputy commanding general for operations, during a welcome home speech while holding up a stuffed animal brought by a Family member. The crowd and Soldiers laughed. "Everyone here is ready to embrace you."
The Strike Advisory Teams were made up of the leadership groups from the 2nd BCT's companies, troops, batteries, battalions, squadron and brigade. Beginning in the spring of 2012, more than 500 Strike leaders deployed to Afghanistan's Regional Command-East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Their mission was to oversee and advise the ANSF, as they take over as the lead in all combat operations in Afghanistan.
"Winning in Afghanistan is advising and assisting the Afghan security forces so they can take full responsibility for their country and that's precisely what the Strike Brigade did and quite frankly, no one has done that better," said Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commanding general of the 101st Abn. Div. and Fort Campbell. "You have served your Nation proudly and now is the time to be with your Families."
"Top Gear," an American motoring television series on the History Channel, aired their second episode of its third season, Feb. 5, which was filmed inside the gates of Fort Campbell during the fall of 2012.
The weeklong production combined Hollywood magic with the military might of the 101st Abn. Div., as the Screaming Eagle Soldiers from the 2nd BCT and 159th Combat Aviation Brigade became part of the show's cast.
Soldiers of the 2nd BCT gathered at the fitness center to compete in "Strike-A-Mania." This marked the first year that "Strike" Soldiers have competed in the brigade-centric tournament, adopted in response to Gen. Raymond T. Odierno's suggestion of an Army-wide fitness program where battalions could compete against one another.
"This year, there was no Week of the Eagles because of deployments," said Capt. Dave Dunn, public affairs official for 2nd BCT. "We wanted to support the Strike combatives by having a tournament for them so we can produce some Soldiers that will take part in the Army combatives tournament."
Walk and Shoot
"Strike" Soldiers conducted a walk-and-shoot combined arms training exercise, Aug. 19-28, to continue preparations for future combat operations.
The training brings Infantry, cavalry, artillery, and attack aviation leadership and Soldiers together to test their ability to synchronize combined arms operations.
"The walk-and-shoot provided an excellent training environment for the fire support community to plan, synchronize and integrate multiple indirect fire systems into their maneuver units' plans," said Lt. Col. Mark Sherkey, commander of 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, "Top Guns," 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div.
The training event also gave artillery leadership an opportunity to increase Soldier proficiency and confidence in digital combat computer systems.
Army's Connelly Award
It is rare in the Army to be part of an elite team. It takes hard work, perseverance and dedication to the mission. The Soldiers of the 526th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., are one such team.
The battalion, known as "Best by Performance," received the Department of the Army level 45th Annual Phillip A. Connelly Award for best field kitchen at a ceremony Aug. 26, at the 2nd Brigade Dining Facility. Brigadier Gen. Kevin O'Connell, Forces Command G-4 Chief of Staff, presented the award.
"It is a real honor for me to present this award on behalf of the Army to the Strike team," O'Connell said. "It is very difficult to win and I commend you for competing and winning not only at the FORSCOM level, but at the Department of the Army level. It is very impressive."
"Strike" Soldiers conducted the Leader Training Program, Oct. 8-15, to plan for the brigade's rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
The program brought together a portion of the Soldiers from the battalions and the brigade staff as well as the planners from 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment "Saber," 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, for a weeklong planning and synchronization session.
"LTP brought in the big picture of the game and allowed us to articulate the aviation needs of the battalions," said Chief Warrant Officer Rolland Lewis, the tactical operations officer for 2nd BCT, and a native of Concord, Calif. "It's been enlightening trying to talk Infantry after flying medical evacuation my entire career; trying to correlate how to interact with the ground unit and how to bring the aviation units we work with to a better understanding of maneuver operations."
Soldiers of 2nd BCT recently completed the monthlong training event at JRTC. The training, which took place in a historic Army training center known during the Vietnam era as "Tiger Land," provides brigade combat teams the ability to put stress on all combat systems prior to deployment.
Strike brigade's mission during the rotation was to train, assist, and advise Afghan National Security Forces in their area of operations. JRTC does its best to mirror the same operations that occur in Afghanistan where Afghans are currently in the lead on security.
Upon return to Fort Campbell, 2nd BCT began to pack their duffel bags and containers for shipment to Afghanistan within a few days for their future deployment.
Strike hosted its first Strike Fires Forum at Fort Campbell Dec 16. The event welcomed maneuver commanders and artillerymen from across the brigade, capturing lessons learned from the year's training, expectations of the Strike Fires organization, and a training path toward fires proficiency.
The goal of the daylong forum was to create an environment to build the team, continue the brigade's development of adaptive fires leaders, and discuss topics such as joint fires and precision munitions in order to provide scalable options and responsive effects.
Brigadier Gen. Mark R. Stammer, Fort Campbell acting senior commander, opened the forum by discussing the fires community role within a maneuver organization, the Afghanistan fires mission, and the way forward for the fires community.
"Core competency for the artillery community needs to precede that of the maneuver community," Stammer stated. The commander explained that fires core competency training comes sequentially first, because it is asked by the organization to do so many additional roles.
As the end of the year has come, Strike has made full circle, preparing for another tour in Afghanistan to assist the ANSF in taking the lead with the Afghan security.