By Bob Reinert and Don KramerFebruary 27, 2009
FORT LEWIS, Wash - Lieutenant General Charles H. Jacoby Jr., I Corps commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Frank A. Grippe, the command's senior NCO, furled and cased the corps' colors in a deployment ceremony Tuesday morning at Soldiers Field House.
More than 900 Soldiers and civilians from I Corps Headquarters will deploy to Iraq and assume the duties of XVIII Airborne Corps as Multi-National Corps-Iraq. This is the first deployment in direct support of combat operations for the entire corps headquarters since the Korean War.
"We are the best-trained, best-equipped and best-manned operational headquarters in our Army today," Jacoby told those in attendance.
"We are prepared to carry our colors into Iraq and to do our part in protecting our nation's interests while helping to build our emerging strategic partnership into Iraq."
Approximately 120 leaders and Soldiers from I Corps headquarters deployed to Iraq in January 2004 as Task Force Olympia. They replaced the 101st Airborne Division headquarters in Mosul, providing command and control of coalition forces around the city during a period of difficult fighting.
"America's Corps," formed in 1918, has taken part in more campaigns than any other Army corps and is the only one ever awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation. It is the most decorated corps in the active Army.
"I have no doubt that I Corps Soldiers of today will have the courage to meet (their) challenges," Jacoby said. "I have full confidence in our Soldiers, leaders, training and equipment."
Jacoby thanked XVIII Airborne Corps and its commander, Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, for laying the groundwork for success in Iraq.
"Their hard work and sacrifice have put us in position to continue to build upon their tireless efforts in Iraq," Jacoby said. "And we have learned to be a corps by watching, working and learning from them."
During an earlier trip to Iraq in preparation for the I Corps deployment, Jacoby met with Austin. At the time, Jacoby said that Austin told him that "the most important attribute for our headquarters is to develop a culture of inclusiveness and adaptability, to remember that the enemy has a vote, to remember that he is committed.
"As we've beaten him down, he remains a dangerous foe right up until his last breath. We have to be ready to adapt to unexpected circumstances and ... to adapt rapidly to a changing environment while staying true to your major goals and objectives."
General Charles C. Campbell, commander, U.S. Army Forces Command, told the assembled Soldiers, family members and friends that the military, economic and political landscapes in Iraq had changed.
"The XVIII Airborne Corps has created positive momentum in Iraq," Campbell said. "And your task will be to make that momentum irreversible. Irreversible momentum will only come from the empowerment of the Iraqi people and the careful transition of our security responsibilities.
"Our Iraqi military partners are now in the lead, and it will be your task to enable and support their efforts in bringing greater security, better governance and economic improvement to their land."
Jacoby pointed out that I Corps would be working in Iraq with such Fort Lewis units as 3rd Brigade, 2nd Inf. Div., 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, 17th Fires Brigade, 555th Engineer Brigade and 593rd Sustainment Brigade.
"Others will join the fight in Afghanistan, to include 5-2 Stryker Brigade," Jacoby said. "Others prepare for an uncertain future with one thing for sure - they will answer the call."
Meeting with the media afterward, Jacoby said that the deployment ceremony "symbolizes a two-year effort to transform the corps and prepare for its deployment to Iraq."
There, said Jacoby, I Corps would take day-to-day control of 140,000 coalition troops. He added that the transfer of authority would take place April 4.
"We're excited about the challenges and the opportunities to make a difference in Iraq," Jacoby said. "We're going to have a great year."
Don Kramer and Bob Reinert are reporters with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.