WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 1, 2008) -- The Department of Defense announced Monday that four brigade combat teams will rotate to Iraq early next year.

The 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 1st Cavalry Division will deploy from Fort Hood, Texas; along with the 3rd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., and the 56th Brigade (Stryker) Combat Team of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

About 18,000 Soldiers are in these four brigade combat teams. The Soldiers are being informed if the deployment in advance to provide them the opportunity to plan, conduct training, and to provide some degree of predictability for the Soldiers and their Families, officials said.

The Ironhorse Brigade (1st BCT, 1st Cavalry Div.) will be deploying for a third time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ironhorse troopers deployed first in March 2004 and fought some of the war's most intense street battles in the dense urban terrain of Baghdad's Eastern sectors. The brigade fought full-spectrum operations on a daily basis on thestreets, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure improvements and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces. In March of 2005, the BCT redeployed back to Fort Hood to reset.

Throughout 2006, the brigade reorganized to a Heavy Brigade Combat Team, deploying to Iraq in October. Taking over the largest and one of the most populated areas in Multi-National Division-Baghdad, the Ironhorse Brigade Combat Team became part of the surge operation in Baghdad. The initial focus on combat operations provided a safe, stable, and secure environment which allowed reconciliation efforts of both Sunni and Shia tribal leaders and led to a significant expansion of Iraqi Security Forces, local government, and infrastructure improvement followed by a flourishing economic and cultural growth

The Black Jack Brigade (2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division) will also deploy in support of Iraqi Freedom for a third time. The brigade deployed to Iraq in January 2004 as the lead element for the 1st Cavalry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I. During the initial deployment, the brigade was attached to the 1st Armored Division and patrolled Western Baghdad. In March 2005, the BCT redeployed back to Fort Hood and reorganized as a Heavy Brigade Combat Team. In October 2005 the tTroopers of the Black Jack Brigade deployed to New Orleans as part of humanitarian relief operations following Hurricane Katrina, providing security and assistance to the residents of the Algiers District.

In October of 2006 the Black Jack BCT once again deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, this time taking responsibility for central and south Baghdad. In 15 months of operations, the BCT served in some of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods; improving security, local government, economic opportunity and essential services. Violent attacks in their areas dropped more than 85 percent and essential services, schools, medical care and markets had again been established providing Iraqis with the stability and security that they deserved.

The Spartans of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team were formed in the fall of 2004 as part of the Army's transformation. The Spartans soon deployed as an IBCT in February 2006 - May 2007, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan. Battalion-level units in the Spartan BCT have a lot of combat time, as they all have deployed in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. The Spartan Brigade is comprised of 1-32 Infantry "Chosin" Battalion; 2-87 Infantry "Catamounts"; 3-71 Cavalry (RSTA) "Titans"; 4-25 Field Artillery (Strike) "Wolfpack"; 710th BSB "Spartan Support"; and 3rd BSTB "Vanguards."

The 56th Brigade and its subordinate units trace their lineage back to the days preceding the founding of the United States Army and the nation itself. On Nov. 21, 1747, Benjamin Franklin organized the "Associated Regiment of Foot" in Philadelphia to provide for the common defense of the Commonwealth against Indian raids, French incursions in the Great Lakes regions and French and Spanish privateer raids on the Delaware River.

The "Associators," formed from volunteers, was addressed in a message to the Assembly which stated that the City and Province of Philadelphia "which very lately was in a defenseless state, is now, through the zeal and activity of some, who have the love of their country sincerely at heart, rendered capable, with the blessing of God, of defending itself against the designs of our enemies, many thousands of inhabitants having voluntarily entered into the most solemn engagements for that purpose, ... and everyone appears assiduous in qualifying himself for the defense of his country."

Since 1747, the 56th Brigade and its units have been ready whenever the nation called.
On Sept. 1, 2005 the entire brigade combat team was mobilized to deploy to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, and assisted the people of the Gulf Coast. The 56th SBCT was stationed in and around New Orleans to support the relief effort for the next five weeks. This included a subsequent deployment to the areas damaged by Hurricane Rita, which made landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border while the Stryker Brigade was in New Orleans. Two Infantry companies and One Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Platoon from the BCT deployed to Iraq previously.