Ironhorse changes tack
December 27, 2011
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait -- Over the past five months, Soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division took on the responsibility of securing Iraq's roadways running south to Kuwait, aiding in the successful withdrawal of over 30,000 troops and millions of dollars worth of equipment. With one historic moment complete, their mission continues.
After the Soldiers of the Ironhorse Brigade closed the chapter on Operation New Dawn, they write the next chapter as they adjust to their new location and work to strengthen the U.S. partnership with Kuwait and other regional allies.
Prior to the arrival of the Ironhorse's command and main body of troops, an advanced party of critical personnel were sent a month early to scout and aid in the Brigade's transition from Iraq to Kuwait.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Platisa, an intelligence noncommissioned officer assigned to the Ironhorse brigade and one of the Soldiers in the advanced party, explained that he and the other Soldiers of the advanced party set to work by making contacts with the camp's command team and other local units in order to allocate space for the brigade and its subordinate units.
Over a five- to six-week period, tents were given to the Ironhorse Brigade, providing enough living quarters and offices to sustain it and its battalions, according to Platisa. He also said that the work spaces for the brigade and its battalions are centrally located, which serves to increase the unit's efficiency.
Despite the hard work that Platisa and others accomplished, Soldiers who hadn't moved south yet weren't quite sure what to expect when moving to Kuwait.
"My concept [prior to getting to Kuwait] was that we would have tents, cots and cold showers," said Pfc. David Arriba, a geospatial engineer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of the Ironhorse Brigade.
Arriba said the transition from Iraq to Kuwait was not as difficult as he thought it was going to be, and was surprised by what he found.
"What surprised me were the bunks, the wall lockers and the three drawer chests," Arriba commented after arriving in Kuwait and seeing the sleeping tents.
Arriba explained that the close location of his office, the dining facility and other amenities are a good thing for his morale.
"You don't really have to travel too far to get anywhere specific," Arriba said.
A Morale, Welfare and Recreation center, two base gyms, an education center and popular restaurants like Subway are a few examples of what is available for Soldiers that can help relieve stress during the transition process.
"To aid in my adjustment, I try to get involved in the things they have going on," said Spc. Kettisha Howard, a paralegal specialist assigned to the 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. "It's really a morale booster to know that there is a concert over at the MWR stage and that I can get something to eat while I am there. They have salsa night and hip-hop night, and it makes it easier to adjust while being here in Kuwait."
Howard went on to explain that having things like restaurants, gyms and other amenities will make deployment a little easier. She compared it to being at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. rather than a foreign country.
Although some elements of the Ironhorse Brigade may still be adjusting to its new location, the brigade looks forward to its new mission which comprises of joint training and military-to-military operations and cooperation with Kuwait and other regional allies.
"It's a great opportunity for us to partner with other host nations in this region. There is a lot for us to learn from them," said Capt. Micah Chapman, an infantry officer who works in the brigade's plans shop. "I think anytime we share each other's ideas is a great opportunity to advance both nations."
Chapman explained that prior to the invasion of Iraq, regional operations and cooperation with allied nations and Kuwait was of great importance, and was ongoing throughout the war.
He said that the Ironhorse Brigade, because it is one of the largest units in Kuwait, now has a chance to spearhead partnered cooperative training events with Kuwait and other host nations that haven't been able to take place as frequently in the last few years.
Chapman also explained that when the brigade exhibits its abilities to Kuwait and other regional allies while they train, some nations may be encouraged to change or consider different ways of doing things. He said that by doing so, the Ironhorse Brigade can potentially lay the groundwork for future units to perhaps partner with other host nations down the road.
The long-term goal of the Ironhorse's current mission in the region is that eventually these nations won't need to partner with the U.S. because they will be trained and proficient enough to not need external aid, Chapman said.
"We have a great opportunity to expand the potential of what this program is, and set up any future units that come behind us for greater success," Chapman concluded.