By Capt. Stephen Barker, 18th Engineer Brigade Public Affairs OfficerFebruary 10, 2009
KIRKUK, Iraq -- The 18th Engineer Brigade headquarters is on the move again, this time to Ninewa Province to focus on Mosul and engage provincial and city leaders regarding future reconstruction projects.
The unit will be fully moved to Forward Operating Base Marez by the end of the month as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division relieves the 18th in Kirkuk Province.
Brigade officials said the Soldiers of the 18th will use their engineer expertise in design, survey and project management to enhance the capacity of Mosul city leaders as they plan, fund and initiate projects in the war-torn city.
"We're going up there as the focus turns to Mosul as the last stand for the insurgents," said brigade 1st Sgt. Christopher D. Tipton.
Mosul is the third stop for the unit during this 15-month Iraq deployment. After arriving at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit in May to command two engineer battalions in northern Iraq, the 18th moved to Kirkuk Province in October to focus on non-lethal engagements with the provincial government, brigade officials explained.
Brigade Commander Col. Matthew H. Russell said his unit is ready for its next move.
"Our time in Kirkuk has prepared us perfectly for our new mission in Mosul," he said.
Sgt. Larry N. Soto, a senior local area network manager for the brigade headquarters, also is confident the move will go well.
"We'll do better this time because we've done this before," said Soto, adding that he and the other members of his communications section feel the heat when trying to set up the headquarters' computers and phone lines each time the unit moves to a new location.
Tipton said that when they first got the order to move, the unit's troops were not very excited, "but then they realized that we're getting closer to going home, and it would make the deployment go by faster."
The unit has five months left in Iraq. In the meantime, Tipton had a message for the unit's families and friends at home.
"Don't hesitate to send 'care packages,' because we still enjoy receiving mail," he said. "It gives us something to look forward to."
Currently the 18th provides command and control to two units based in Hawaii - the 84th Construction Effects Battalion and the 65th Combat Engineer Battalion. Members of the 18th also visit frequently with its 54th Engineer Battalion (Combat) from Bamberg, Germany which has operated in central and southern Iraq under the 555th Engineer Brigade since June.
The 18th Engineer Brigade is a U.S. Army Europe unit whose home station is in Heidelberg, Germany.