FORT BRAGG, N.C. - In what may have been his final address to the local media and just days before he is set to board a plane for Iraq, Lt. Gen. Frank G. Helmick, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general, had a key message for the Soldiers, civilians and Family members that he leaves behind.
"Be proud of your community and the units here on this installation."

Helmick spoke with local reporters in the Ridgway Conference Room of his headquarters Tuesday, explaining the corps' mission during its upcoming deployment to Iraq; who will be in charge of Fort Bragg during the deployment and the current operation in the rebuilding country.

He explained that about 40 percent of the post's military population would be deployed by November, to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan or to Iraq in support of what is now called, Operation New Dawn.

"That operational name was selected in September 2010," Helmick said, "because on that date, everyone in the country became an advisor and trainer. So all of the almost 50,000 Soldiers in Iraq today are advisors and trainers."

Helmick pointed out that former XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Commanding General Gen. Lloyd Austin will serve as Iraq's senior commander during the deployment.

Helmick said the corps' key duties will include building capacity, partnering with the Iraqi government and U.S. embassy there, strengthening the Iraqi security forces by continuing to develop the capability inside those organizations and continuing to pressure the extremist networks.

"That's through partnered operations. We will never be in the lead in a combat operation in Iraq," Helmick said.

He said the corps' mission in Iraq will be different during this deployment, in which it replaces Soldiers of the Fort Hood, Texas-based III Corps.

"When we go as a corps, it's very, very different from the last time," Helmick said. "The corps went last time as a unit, an organization. This time when the corps goes we will be like individual augmentees, about 840 individuals, filling in different positions on General Austin's staff."

Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson, XVIII Airborne Corps deputy commanding general, will serve an senior commander at Fort Bragg in Helmick's absence. Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Howard will serve as corps sergeant major and Col. Stephen Sicinski, garrison commander, and MSE (Mission Support Element) director Shawn Mateer, round out the leadership team that will remain at Fort Bragg.

Page last updated Fri January 21st, 2011 at 14:52