After 450-plus days in Iraq, including a four-month extension, the former 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team is home again with a new name - the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and a new mission - to reset and retrain and be ready.
The reflagging is part of an Army-wide effort to modularize brigades and consolidate them under existing division-sized units. The 172nd was the third Army unit to become a Stryker brigade.
The 1st SBCT, 25th ID, originally based at Fort Lewis, Wash., was certified as operational in mid-2004, and from October 2004 through 2005, the unit served in Iraq.
The unit designation moved to Fort Wainwright after the 172nd SBCT redeployed.
The Strykers have a new patch, but will keep the nickname of Arctic Wolves, following the Army's official nod to the unique training environment of Alaska's Interior.
The reflagging from the 172nd SBCT to the 1st SBCT, 25th ID, and change of command ceremonies took place at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks Dec. 14.
It was there Col. Burdett (Burt) Thompson took charge of the Arctic Wolves, informally referred to as, "the wolf pack."
Thompson says he will rely on the returning, combat-hardened veterans to train the new Soldiers.
"It will take time for them to readjust, and they must be respectful that many of their fellow Soldiers in the life cycle have not yet seen combat and are looking up to and counting on them to set the warrior example," he said.
"They should realize that imparting their knowledge, skills and abilities on the new team of Soldiers is critical and will, in the end, make us all better warriors and save lives," Thompson said.
Sgt. Jacob Worrell, command group assistant, worked in security during Operation Iraqi Freedom and now wears the 172nd patch on his right shoulder and 1st SBCT, 25th ID, on his left.
"Of course you identify with the unit's patch that you deployed with," he explained, but change is the nature of the Army. He said the reflagging doesn't affect his job or the objective of the moment - to train the new troops.
Worrell sees the 172nd patch as a symbol of personal experiences as well as the shared experiences of the team. He said after proper training, new combat-ready Soldiers will take pride in wearing the lightning bolt of the 1st SBCT, 25th ID.
A well-trained Soldier is a balanced human being, according to Thompson. Physical, spiritual and mental well-being are all vital elements of a well-trained Soldier.
With only one-third of the 172nd remaining to train up the 3,500-strong team, their work is cut out for them.
"We must also recognize that we're not in this alone," Thompson said of his brigade. "From logistics, to the folks in the dining hall, civilians from General Dynamics (and) support personnel, we respect and recognize what everyone is doing for us to become combat-ready again."
The return to combat readiness is what the "reset" is all about. As personnel return from block leave and Soldiers new to Fort Wainwright in-process, it's time to refocus on training, restore and upgrade equipment and complete individual and team training. Thompson said the reset process for vehicles takes about six weeks.
The Styker brigade's vehicles and equipment are currently being unloaded from the USS Shugart at the Port of Anchorage along with vehicles and equipment from C Company, 84th Engineer Battalion and six HH-60 helicopters coming from a Fort Bragg-based unit that is deactivating following its redeployment from Iraq.
The helicopters will round out Task Force 49's full complement of 12 medevac-equipped HH-60s.See next week's Alaska Post for details on the reset of the Stryker brigade in Alaska.
Once everything is cleaned, tweaked and ready, it's time to marry the trained Soldiers to the equipment. Thompson hinted at a 100th vehicle celebration in the works to recognize the Herculean efforts of the reset team and the daunting but manageable task of the reset.
If all goes according to plan, the 1st SBCT, 25th ID, will be a "mobile, survivable, highly lethal unit" by early summer, he said.
Thompson stressed that the ability to reset so quickly is all a part of thwarting the enemy and keep them guessing.
"I don't know where we'll go next," Thomson admitted, but he said he has no doubt they will be ready.
"Command Sgt. Maj. (Gabriel) Cervantes and I have taken it as a personal challenge to ensure that our Soldiers and leaders are aware of the past history of this battle-hardened brigade and the regiments our battalions represent," Thompson said.
"Our Soldiers are among the best in the Army, and following our reset and collective training period, they will be combat ready," he added.
The brigade is made up of six battalions and five separate companies. The battalions are:
Aca,!Ac 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment (formerly 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment)
Aca,!Ac 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (formerly 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment)
Aca,!Ac 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment (formerly 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment)
Aca,!Ac 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment (formerly 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment)
Aca,!Ac 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment (formerly 4th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment)
Aca,!Ac 25th Brigade Support Battalion
The separate companies are:
Aca,!Ac Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (formerly Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team)
Aca,!Ac D Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment (formerly A Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment)
Aca,!Ac 184th Military Intelligence Company (formerly 572nd Military Intelligence Company)
Aca,!Ac 73rd Engineer Company (formerly 562nd Engineer Company)
Aca,!Ac 176th Signal Company (formerly 21st Signal Company)