<b>CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq</b> - The 3rd Infantry Division completed its fiscal year 2010 active component retention mission in less than seven months. The division is currently spread across four countries and two combat theaters.

"This is a momentous achievement, accomplished by a great command and retention team, especially considering the complexity of the operating environment and the overall tempo of the division," said Sgt. Maj. Luis Rivera, the 3rd ID command career counselor.

This is the 3rd ID's fourth deployment to Iraq since 2003, but the high operational tempo did not stop more than 3,500 Soldiers from re-enlisting. Even more troops will follow their lead as the Army nears its retention goal as well, he said.

The division's re-enlistment success comes despite changes in the Army's program, which have resulted in a 66 percent reduction in average bonus payments, and a very challenging deployed environment where only one brigade is within the divisions' direct operational control.

The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade led the charge to mission completion this year, as they were the first to accomplish mission.

"Soldiers in my unit re-enlisted because they and their Families were constantly engaged by a retention team and command, which worked diligently to meet each Soldier's needs and desires," said Master Sgt. Michael Giesen, the 3rd CAB senior career counselor. "The great command climate is reflected in our high stabilization rate."

The 3rd ID, which is currently the headquarters for United States Division - North, near Tikrit, arrived in theater to close out the combat mission and to facilitate the transition to advise and assist brigades in northern Iraq as responsibility for security shifts to Iraqi forces.

"This deployment Soldiers have shown great perseverance as they continue to work closely with Iraqi Security Forces and tribal leaders to stabilize the economy and make life better for Iraq's citizens," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, TF Marne and 3rd ID command sergeant major.

"One of the reasons Soldiers are able to focus on helping the people of Iraq is because of the terrific support system that they have in their Families and friends back home," Command Sgt. Maj. Andrews said. "The continual flow of letters, e-mails, and care packages from both loved ones and strangers continues to strengthen Soldiers' resolve and lift their morale.

Each Soldier re-enlists for a different reason, but for one Eureka, Calif., native, it was about the opportunities military service provides.

Sergeant Megan Nater, an intelligence analyst in the division headquarters, considered leaving active duty until assistance from the retention team enabled her to accomplish a personal dream.

"Re-enlisting for a duty assignment in Italy allowed me to do something I otherwise wouldn't have been able to do on my own," said Sgt. Nater. "People don't understand what a benefit it is to be able to live in a different country for three years and have that kind of experience without worrying about what it costs or where to live."

The 3rd ID retention team constantly strives to be the premiere Army unit when it comes to assisting Soldiers with their careers.

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