BAGHDAD - The end is almost here for the Soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, and now, after 14 months in theater, Iron Brigade troops are receiving their replacements from the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the North Carolina Army National Guard.
Starting in late April, Soldiers from the 30th HBCT, wearing the easy to recognize ''Old Hickory' patch, began to appear in Iraq. Now in early May with their main force arriving, the flood gates have opened and Forward Operating Base Falcon is filling to the brim with Soldiers.
And Soldiers of the Iron Brigade are happy to have them.
"I can definitely say that the moment he (my replacement) walked through the door, my face lit up like a Christmas tree I was so happy," said Sgt 1st Class David McGuire, information operations non-commissioned officer in charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, 1st Armd. Div., of Crofton, Ky. "And also because he walked in at the perfect time as I was wanting to sign over my property," he said with a laugh.
"Yeah literally, I walked in and within five minutes I was signing hand receipts for all the computers," said Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Mills, information operations non-commissioned officer in charge, HHC, 30th HBCT, from Raleigh N.C., laughing in reply.
It's a common story all throughout the brigade as Soldiers sign over theater property equipment, share offices and exchange vital information necessary to maintain the gains fought for over the last 14-months.
"Right now I'm showing him around the brigade and division portal so he can have that as part of his toolkit. We also have continuity books so that we can smoothly transition from where we left off," said McGuire.
The 30th HBCT is scheduled to have all of their personnel in-country by the middle of the month when the official RIP process begins. This is the second time that the 30th HBCT has deployed to Iraq, the first being in 2004, and they bring with them all of the characteristic aspects of being a National Guard unit.
"The National Guard is a bit unique in the fact that we have basically 4000 Soldiers and they're civilians, so they kind of have a distinctive perspective as far as being able to support the local population," said Mills. "We have bankers and lawyers and town managers and mechanics at gas stations back home where they bring back those unique skill sets that help the transition from the Soldier to the civilians (in-country)."
The National Guard is often put under extra scrutiny by their active duty counterparts, but the different perspective they have as citizen Soldiers often lead to creative solutions to difficult problems.
"This is our opportunity to ante up and step in," said Mills. "You don't join the Guard to just sit back and do one weekend a month, you want to see if this stuff works, and that's the great thing about being a citizen Soldier. I feel like we really get the best of both worlds you know, we get to be Soldiers and we get to be civilians."
"I have full confidence in their abilities to take over our jobs and improve upon on what we've already done," said McGuire.
The official transfer of authority ceremony between the 2nd BCT and 30th HBCT is currently scheduled for late May.
"I think that this is a good example of the one Army concept where you have the National Guard coming in and working with the Active Army and kind of seamlessly doing the transfer," said Mills. "I mean, of course we're going to do business differently just because we're different, but we have this great base that we're getting from these guys, a great place to start so that we can give the Iraqis a terrific future."