By Gregory Ripps, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade writer-editorJune 21, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Fort Sam Houston -- The number "14" figured prominently in the day's events: June 14 was not only the Army's 238th birthday and Flag Day but also the day the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion inactivated.
The Soldiers standing in formation near the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial for the inactivation ceremony at one point also totaled 14 -- one-tenth of their number eight months ago -- but that was coincidental.
The battalion was activated at Fort Sam Houston on Oct. 15, 2008, under the 470th MI Brigade. On that day its Soldiers already knew they would be deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom by bolstering the human intelligence-gathering capabilities of the United States and its allies in the region.
"Interrogations are a complex operation requiring lots of training, regulations and oversight," said Lt. Col. Kris Arnold, 14th MI Battalion commander, at the ceremony. "Interrogation under today's regulatory oversight is very challenging for the interrogator, but it is still a very effective form of collecting intelligence."
After serving in Iraq for a year, 2009-2010, the battalion retrained under new leadership and deployed again in 2011, this time to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion returned home last October.
"I and the Soldiers before you can hold our heads high, knowing that this inactivation represents the closing down of a successful, lawful and very fruitful human intelligence collection organization that made a significant difference on the battlefield," said Arnold, addressing the small crowd gathered to witness the inactivation.
Arnold and battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Fanelli, with the assistance of the color bearer, performed the honors of casing the unit's historic colors to symbolize the inactivation. The inactivation places the unit in an inoperative status without assigned personnel or equipment for an indefinite period of time.
Col. Pierre Gervais, 470th MI Brigade commander, noted the words "Support by Intelligence" on the unit's insignia: "'Support' for an ideal etched firmly in these Soldiers for the warfighter function known only as 'Intelligence.'"
Technically, this occasion marked the third time the 14th MI Battalion has inactivated. It was first activated in 1965 during the Vietnam conflict and inactivated in 1983. It was again activated in 1988 and inactivated the second time in 1997.
"These men and women served the cause of freedom not only here in the United States, Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan, but also historically in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia," said Gervais in reference to the battalion's three-part story. Their success, he said, was not because of their equipment, even though it has been the finest in the world.
"Personal courage -- in the face of the harshest conditions, the sweat and pain in training, so that in the face of the enemy we succeed -- was not because of the equipment, but because of the Soldiers ready and willing to serve our nation," he said.
"Know that someday, someday soon in our Army, the 14th MI Battalion will reappear to serve this nation in time of need," said Gervais. "Those Soldiers will take great strength from what you have done."
The brigade commander also recognized the sacrifices families made and the support they gave to the Soldiers.
"Even through the strain of deployment, military families strengthen the fabric of each community they touch and enrich our national life as shining examples of patriotism," said Gervais.
According to Maj. Douglas Zimmerman, battalion executive officer, about a quarter of the battalion's Soldiers have separated from the Army; another quarter have transferred to other units within the brigade; the rest have transferred to units outside the brigade, with a handful of them changing career paths.
Arnold cited a number of individual Soldiers in the battalion and briefly described their noteworthy accomplishments.
"Why was the unit so successful? That is easy to answer," said Arnold. "It's because of the great Soldiers, civilians and families that have been part of this organization."