BAGHDAD (Dec. 21, 2009) -- The excitement is building some 6,400 miles away from Iraq in the state of North Carolina.

That's because Soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team are preparing for redeployment after spending about eight months in Iraq. Members of the 30thHBCT mobilized nearly a year ago, and will begin returning home in January.

The 30th HBCT's main mission has been supporting and ensuring the security of the Iraqis who reside in an area south of Baghdad. The brigade, also known as "Old Hickory" and made up of about 4,000 Soldiers, arrived in Iraq in early May and immediately began conducting patrols.

"We set out to accomplish our mission by focusing primarily along two main lines of effort. The first being our partnership with the Iraqi security forces and the combined security operations that we do together, as well as civil capacity. And we see both of these lines of efforts being inextricably linked to the goal of securing the population," said Col. Gregory Lusk, commander of the 30th HBCT, Multinational Division-Baghdad.

The brigade has also played an instrumental part in other successes now being seen in Iraq, including the country's upcoming national elections.

"We recognized early on that this would be a key event for our time here in Iraq, and all of our efforts since our day of arrival have been dedicated towards accomplishing this goal and setting the conditions and supporting the Iraqi desires for holding these important elections," said Col. Lusk.

Before deploying to Iraq, the brigade from Clinton, N.C., spent nearly four months at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. While there, the Soldiers conducted lane exercises and counter Improvised Explosive Device training, crew-served weapon familiarization and qualification, individual weapon qualification and language classes.

It's training that has proven and continues to prove to be vital for the Soldiers while in Iraq.
"This gets you ready," said Sgt. Robert Dalton, a school resource officer at Clinton High School.
Like so many of the Soldiers with the 30th HBCT, serving in the National Guard is a passion for Dalton, but he's excited about heading home.

"This component of our campaign plan has been extremely rewarding; we've sweated and succeeded together in pursuit of a common objective. By the time we redeploy, we project that we will have committed to more than 200 projects," said Lusk.

(2nd Lt. Eric Connor serves with First Army Public Affairs.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16