"Black Jack" Soldiers hit ground running
February 10, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - After nearly a year of fighting insurgents and enhancing relations between Kurds and Arabs in the contentious northern Iraq province of Kirkuk, the Soldiers of the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, returned to Fort Hood and uncased their colors at a ceremony Feb. 2.
"The uncasing ceremony is significant because it shows the official return of the unit," explained Lt. Col. Hugh McNeely, the deputy commanding officer of 2nd BCT.
A unit cases its colors before departing for an overseas deployment, and is subsequently uncased when the unit arrives at its deployment location, McNeely explained. The unit will then repeat the process of casing and uncasing their colors when preparing to, and finally returning to their home station.
The 2nd BCT's deployment is noteworthy because of the nature of the deployment.
"When we left last year, we were trained for a counterinsurgency fight in Baghdad," explained Lt. Col. Christopher Norrie, the 2nd BCT operations officer. "After we left, our mission changed to Kirkuk, which really is the tip of the spear for Iraqi Kurd-Arab tensions."
However, explains Norrie, the brigade took the change in stride and made significant contributions in the north. "I was amazed by the flexibility and professionalism of our Soldiers and officers."
However, after the long, demanding deployment, the colors are back at Fort Hood. "This signifies to everyone that 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., has returned," said McNeely.
With the colors uncased, the brigade resumes its garrison responsibilities from the rear detachment.
The rear detachment prepared the unit's buildings, equipment and tasks for the return of 2nd BCT, explained Lt. Col. Tim Prater, 2nd BCT's rear-detachment commander. "We made sure everything was good-to-go for the returning unit to take back over."
The rear-detachment was minimally staffed by brigade Soldiers, and with the brigade back, they are reintegrating into the battalions, explained Prater.
"It's nice to have our brigade all back together," said Col. Ryan Gonsalves, 2nd BCT's commanding officer.
And while the brigade is reuniting with rear detachment Soldiers; it is also reintegrating with the division headquarters. During the deployment, 2nd BCT operated under the command of Multi-National Division - North, first led by the 25th Infantry Division and then the 3rd Infantry Division.
"It's great to see the 2nd Brigade Combat Team back with the 1st Cavalry Division," said Maj. Gen. Daniel Bolger, the commanding general of 1st Cav. Div.
"This brigade did stuff in Iraq that no other unit has done during this Iraq campaign," said Bolger. "You guys did it well...You've continued to add to the heritage of this great brigade and the division."
According to McNeely, the brigade will continue to prepare over the next few months in "reset mode" as it gets ready to resume full combat training in preparation for future deployments, which will include additional equipment and personnel.
"We have got to get back into the swing of our daily business here," said Gonsalves.
As Soldiers leave and new Soldiers arrive, this brigade will develop its new team and bring in new commanders and command sergeant's major and continue to build and ready itself for the next deployment, explained Gonsalves.