By Capt. Jean Marie Kratzer, New York Army National GuardJanuary 11, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Later this year when the Army's 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) headquarters deploys to Iraq, 91 New York Army National Guard Soldiers will be going with them, wearing the Mountain Division shoulder insignia.
They are members of the New York Army National Guard's newest unit, activated in 2016 in Syracuse, N.Y. Called a Main Command Post Operational Detachment, abbreviated as MCP-OD, pronounced as "mcpod."
The detachment is designed to augment the 10th Mountain Division's command post during combat deployments with staff officers and NCOs that bring added skills to the headquarters.
The Army created these detachments to reinforce active Army headquarters elements that were cut from about 700 personnel down to 500. Deploying National Guard Soldiers as part of these divisions helps make up the difference for unit deployments and also reduces the need for active-duty Soldiers to deploy as frequently.
The New York detachment mobilized on January 5th to conduct its predeployment training at Fort Drum.
When they deploy, the Soldiers will be spread out, serving at several different division locations in Iraq and Kuwait.
At full strength the detachment will have 96 Soldiers. This includes five civil affairs Soldiers from the Army Reserve. Civil affairs is an Army Reserve specialty.
"The morale of our Soldiers is incredibly high," said 1st Lt. Victoria Lovett, a Latham, N.Y. resident who commands the detachment's Headquarters and Support Company. "Our unit has a mix of first time deployers and those service members who have had numerous deployments, who have been taking the time to mentor."
The "mcpod" includes Soldiers with military intelligence, engineering, logisticians, civil affairs and signal operations backgrounds, added Lovett.
The detachment normally comes under the command of the New York
Army National Guard's Troy-based 42nd Infantry Division.
"Over the past year we have had to maintain equipment, establish a training plan that met the needs of the 10th Mountain Division, and still resemble a traditional National Guard schedule," said Lt. Col. Michael Bice, the detachment commander, a Watertown, N.Y. resident.
Bice will serve as a 10th Mountain Division staff officer when the detachment deploys.
The Soldiers have so far participated in three 10th Mountain Division Command Post exercises and a 10th Mountain Division Warfighter command post combat simulation exercise.
The detachment Soldiers were recognized for their outstanding dedication and performance, Bice said.
"At this point, I have Soldiers with the best equipment, best training and leaving with the most deployed division in our modern history," Bice said. "As a Soldier, does it really get any better?"
"As a commander, any chance you get to lead Soldiers is a great day, the more time I spend with these Soldiers the better this deployment gets," Bice added.
"Myself and the Soldiers of the command post detachment have already been playing a key role for the 10th Mountain Division headquarters," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Messina, a Brooklyn resident serving as the detachment operations non-commissioned officer. "Every day we are living the active duty lifestyle and cross training with them."
"I am ready to experience this new endeavor, working with the active-duty component and working in operations will be a completely different than my first deployment as an infantryman," Messina added.