Commander looks at division's role in war on terrorism
September 8, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Most people can probably tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing the moment the Sept. 11 attacks took place. But for many members of the 10th Mountain Division (LI), what stands out most in their memory is where they were shortly after the attacks: Afghanistan.
The 10th Mountain Division (LI) was one of the first units deployed to Afghanistan, and it has been on a nearly constant deployment cycle ever since.
"Look at the history of the (reactivated) 10th Mountain Division. It all started with Hurricane Andrew. Then it went into Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, right into (Afghanistan and Iraq)," said Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, Regional Command South and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander. "And I think 10th Mountain Division was leading the way in a lot of these things."
Apart from the 10th Mountain being affected by the attacks a decade ago, the Army as a whole has seen drastic changes. It has restructured its units and equipment to handle the rigors of deployment.
"In 10 years, the Army has changed tremendously. I think as much as anything, the modular structure that we've gone to in order to meet the demands of the operational environment has really reshaped the Army -- how it thinks, how it fights and especially the doctrine that goes behind it all -- the counterinsurgency doctrine," Terry remarked.
With the new challenges facing coalition forces in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, the Army had to change how it fights. This new enemy was not the conventional force the Army had long envisioned. They thought and behaved in different ways and required a different approach, often forcing combat units to navigate complex political, social and economic problem sets.
"We had a Cold War thought process of very linear warfare, and so today what you wind up with is this counterinsurgent environment, which causes you to really have to learn your way through the environment as opposed to fighting your way directly through it," Terry said.
Learning how to fight militarily in a new manner and adopting a new mindset, both in America and abroad, shows that Sept. 11, 2001, was a day of significance for not only Americans, but a dawn of a new global age.
"We've come together as a nation and we're pretty committed to stopping terrorism, and I think we've proven that over the years," Terry said. "I think it was a human tragedy. It's not only Americans who suffered since 9/11. … You have a lot of Afghans who suffered also."
As for American Soldiers, the events of that September day galvanized their resolve to serve and called many new people to service.
"I think we've all, since 9/11, picked up a certain operational pace and tempo that we didn't see before that, and I think it recommitted a lot of us to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," Terry commented.
In the aftermath of it all, the nation sees its service members in distant lands, separated from their loved ones, doing a difficult job. They are working together to bring peace and stability to a tumultuous region and attempting to neutralize the possibility of future terrorist attacks.
"I want to thank all the Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out there who have sacrificed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but especially those who have served under my command as we move toward stabilizing Afghanistan and creating a brighter future," Terry added.