Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.- Leaders and Soldiers of 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System battalion, cased their colors in preparation for an upcoming deployment during a deployment ceremony on Joint Base Lewis-McChord April 4.
"Our battalion is deploying to perform one of the most complex and challenging artillery missions the army has seen. It is clear to me that they are fully prepared," said Lt. Col. James Dunwoody, the commander of 5-3 FAR, said as he addressed the crowd gathered for the ceremony.
The mission will last nine months and take the battalion to Southwest Asia in support of U.S. Army Central and Operation Inherent Resolve, where the soldiers will provide fire support to ongoing missions and help build partner capacities in the region.
"The color casing was a good way of making it official that we are deploying," said Spc. Moses Amesquita, a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarter Battery, 5-3 FAR. "It gave the Soldiers and the families a good mindset for starting the deployment."
5-3 FAR is no stranger to deploying. Over the past 15 years the unit has deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait multiple times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve. The unit returned from its last deployment in 2015.
Capt. Ben Underwood, an operations officer with 5-3 FAR, is particularly looking forward to partnering with Emirati and Jordanian HIMARS units.
"We will be working closely with HIMARS units from our partner militaries to build readiness together, but I am most excited about establishing a close relationship with them. This will be my first opportunity to work with another military in this capacity," said Underwood.
Underwood, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, said the staff at 5-3 FAR will work with HIMARS battalions from both countries during several bilateral live-fire exercises.
"I think we will build on the history of partnership over the course of this deployment and the history of our unit. We have a great group of Soldiers and a great team," Underwood said.
The battalion's history can be traced back to the late 1700s when it was part of the 2nd Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers.
As to its unique motto, "First Round," it was earned at the start of the Civil War when Battery D - the forerunner of the battalion - fired the first cannon at the Battle of Bull Run.
Dunwoody is confident his Soldiers have what it takes to build the relationships with their partners.
"All of our soldiers demonstrate an expertise in the use of their equipment and developed specialized skills that are clearly complimentary to those of our host nations. Our Soldiers are fully vested and supremely capable of enhancing the combat readiness of our own formation and our partners across the region," Dunwoody said in his remarks.
Amesquita shares the enthusiasm to train with soldiers from other countries.
"I am really excited to be able to train with our partners and that we are working to defend our country," said Amesquita.
This will mark Amesquita's first deployment as a Soldier in the U.S. Army.
Follow the story and Soldiers of the 17th FA Brigade at facebook.com/17thFieldArtilleryBrigade.