Something old, something new
February 26, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - As an organization, mounted cavalry dates back to the earliest days of warfare. Through its history, it has evolved to encompass new and innovative equipment and practices while holding firm to its roots. Some of the traditional roles of cavalry in support of larger formations were in reconnaissance, command and control, screening and forward security. Even though the cavalrymen of today may not look or act like the Roman cavalry, its spirit continues.
Conversely, one of the newest organizations in the United States Army, the Brigade Special Troops Battalion - which came into being near the dawn of the new millennium-has meaningfully integrated into the historical ranks of the cavalry and consolidated many of its functions.
For Soldiers from the 2nd STB "Spartans", 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, this meant working side-by-side with infantrymen, artillerymen and cavalry scouts in the most contentious region of Iraq - Kirkuk province - ensuring that communications, military police operations and aerial reconnaissance supported the diverse fight throughout the 2nd BCT's deployment in 2009.
"The 2nd STB represents MPs, chemical, signal, military intelligence, cooks, fuelers, mechanics...we have over 60 different enlisted military occupation specialties in our battalion," said Maj. Kimberly Bennett, the 2nd STB operations officer. "Our diversity is what makes us great."
The 2nd STB "Spartans" played a critical role in ensuring troops throughout the 2nd Brigade Combat Team's area of operations were able to communicate.
According to Bennett, elements within 2nd STB were responsible for establishing communications to and from the brigade's headquarters, as well as to and within outlying bases.
"Without our systems in place, the brigade would not be able to talk with any systems other than FM [radio], and even that would have been limited to Forward Operating Base Warrior," said Bennett. FOB Warrior was the location for the brigade and many subordinate battalion headquarters. While the base was relatively large, it was miniscule in relation to the geographic area the brigade was responsible for engaging.
The BCT also conducted around-the-clock Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle flights in support of numerous operations across the AO, providing key intelligence to forces on the ground, explained Bennett.
Another important responsibility managed by 2nd STB Soldiers was the Brigade Detainee Holding Area Annex, where former detainees were held while they were out-processed for release back into society, said Bennett. Hundreds of detainees were processed through the facility during the brigade's deployment, many released as part of the historic transfer of responsibility of the nation's security from U.S. to Iraqi Security Forces.
Overall, the mission taken on by 2nd STB was a unique one, and "the battalion stands ready to conduct a variety of full spectrum operations in order to assist the 'Black Jack' Brigade with its mission," said Bennett.
In addition to their mission, the "Spartans" also assumed geographic oversight responsibility for three provinces in the Kurdistan Regional Government - Irbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah - during a crucial and potentially volatile election period in the semi-autonomous area, explained Maj. Kimberly Bennett, the battalion's operations officer.
"The 2nd STB, along with elements from Multi-National Division - North, contributed to operations to facilitate the people of the KRG in holding internationally-recognized elections for the KRG," she said. "There were no major incidents during the distribution of ballots, voting and the transfer of ballots to the Parliament in Baghdad."
And now that the battalion is back in the states, it is continuing to support the cavalrymen and merge into their traditions, adding their own distinct flavor to the "cavalry legend."