Area I Command Perspective

By Col. Jack HaefnerJune 24, 2015

Col. Jack Haefner
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP RED CLOUD -- You've been hearing for months how once as we headed into summer we'd see some big and complex movements of military units in and out of Area I, moves so important they've been part of the daily focus of our garrison's leadership and staff.

One of these has been the fast-paced run-up to the inactivation just days from now of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, known also as the Iron Brigade, which has long been a part of the 2nd Infantry Division.

Our garrison has had a major role in support of that inactivation. We've mounted a full-throttle, round-the-clock effort to help out-process the Soldiers of the Iron Brigade. They'll move to assignments outside Korea, or in some cases, elsewhere in Korea.

But our big effort hasn't been limited to individual Soldier out-processing, huge though that's been. We've also kept plenty busy ensuring that the barracks, motor pools, and other facilities the brigade is vacating are in solid, respectable order to serve as home for the unit that will fall in on them as the 1 ABCT's replacement.

Similarly, we make sure that our on-post clubs, fitness centers and other recreational facilities are the good and safe places they should be for the Soldiers of our Area I community.

That unit replacing the 1 ABCT is the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. Those 1st Cav shoulder patches you now see in increasing abundance in and near the Camp Casey food court and elsewhere on our installations are the Soldiers of that brigade, known also Black Jack Brigade, or in military shorthand, the 2-1.

We extend our warmest welcome to the 2-1 and also to another rotational unit that's recently become part of our Area I Community: the 2nd Battalion ("Deep Strike"), 20th Field Artillery Regiment.

We also congratulate the 2nd Infantry Division on what has been a historic first for our entire U.S. Army: just weeks ago the division and elements of the South Korean army activated as a new combined division, now called the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division.

We're proud of the work we've done to help the 1ABCT as it nears inactivation and the Black Jack Brigade and Deep Strike battalion as they serve their rotations here.

As I often remind you, our garrison's main mission is to support the warfighter. We make sure they have the electricity, water, good roads, barracks and other facilities they need as they stay in "Fight Tonight" readiness.

This applies not only to the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division, but to our other tenant units, among them various elements of the 65th Medical Brigade, the Airmen of the 604th Air Support Operations Squadron, and the Soldiers at the Joint Security Area.

The support we've brought to bear for the Iron Brigade's inactivation and the arrival of the Black Jack Brigade are a fresh reminder of how our garrison needs to be flexible, adaptive and ready to turn on a dime to meet any base support mission that may arise.

That's exactly what we've been during this transition from one brigade to the next. (And we've done it while at the same time working our way through the long hours and other challenges of our recent organizational inspection and Full Scale Exercise).

The pace of transformation doesn't slacken: even as we're fully engaged in the arrival of the 2-1, we're planning for their departure next year and for the eventual closing of some of our Area I installations and the eventual move of most combat units south out of Area I to a new home at Camp Humphreys.

That's all part of being the garrison here in Korea that's nearest the "tip of the spear." It's a mission we're proud of, and taking its challenges in stride is part of the way we roll.

In the same way that we have to be ready for whatever needs arise for support of our tenant units, we also have to ready for the destructive potential of rough weather. That includes the monsoon season whose torrential rains usually rumble over the horizon in June and keep up into early September.

Whether this summer's monsoon season will turn out to be relatively mild, as sometimes happens, or severe enough to bring flooding, landslides, and danger to life and property, as also sometimes happens, our garrison is ready to take the actions necessary for the safety of our people and installations.

Besides the changes I've mentioned, there've been noteworthy changes at two of our other garrisons on the peninsula. At U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, a new Commander, Col. Joseph C. Holland, has assumed command, replacing Col. Darin S. Conkright. U.S. Army Garrison Daegu has likewise had a change-of-command, with Col. Ted Stephens replacing Col. Jim M. Bradford. I offer my best wishes to Col. Conkright and his family and Col. Bradford and his family as they move to their new assignments.

We say of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command that "IMCOM is the Army's home." Well, I congratulate Col. Holland and Col. Stephens on choosing Korea as their new home.

I've already mentioned the historic activation of the 2nd Infantry Division/ ROK-US Combined Division, which occurred June 3. The division, also called the Indianhead Division and the Warrior Division, has a proud history that goes back nearly 100 years.

But it is also celebrating 50 consecutive years of service here on the Korean peninsula. I offer my congratulations to the Warrior Division. It's a source of pride to our garrison that in our mission of supporting the warfighter, the warfighter we support is the storied Warrior Division.

Support and Defend!

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