By Devon L. SuitsAugust 2, 2018
WASHINGTON -- Leadership of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division believes their recent multi-nation rotational deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve enriched their formation.
Col. Brian Sullivan, the commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light) out of Fort Polk, Louisiana, spoke July 27 about the unit's deployment, cultivation of the alliance between Iraqi and U.S. forces, and the ongoing advise, assist, accompany, and enable, or A3E, mission there.
Sullivan said the A3E mission enables Iraqi security forces by teaching them the necessary skills to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, all while providing post-conflict stabilization and persistent disruption of ISIS remnants and other violent extremist organizations.
"I am extremely proud of the work our Soldiers did to assist with the defeat of ISIS in Iraq, to support the coalition forces in Afghanistan, and the constant pressure we're able to maintain on the enemy," Sullivan said. "In Baghdad, where I was able to work with and observe our Iraqi security force leaders, they clearly understand what is at stake."
As part of their deployment, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team also provided base defense operations, coalition fire, and operational command support across Qiyarrah West air base, the Hawija pocket, the Salah ah Din province, and Erbil, along with other locations in Syria, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Additionally, Sullivan said, the brigade headquarters was forced to move four times during its nine months in theater.
"This may sound like a challenge, but ... we trained for decisive action and we were prepared to win in these conditions," Sullivan said. "Also, because of the trust I had in my battalion and company-level commanders and their senior noncommissioned officers, I was very confident that they could be trusted to do the right thing -- accomplish the missions and solve problems."
Although the deployment brought many "high points of success," Sullivan said, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team was reminded that, at any moment, a Soldier might be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice.
"We lost a member of our 'Patriot' family," Sullivan said. "Every day we are sustained by the memory of Spc. Alexander W. Missildine, who was killed in action on October 1, 2017."
Missildine was killed by an improvised explosive device, Sullivan said. Other Soldiers also suffered from that blast.
"Sgt. 1st Class David Mathis lost both his legs in same IED blast. He returned just 264 days later to lead the brigade on a run," Sullivan said. "Sgt. 1st Class Mathis is the epitome of a Soldier who's charged to face adversity and a reminder to the rest of us to be resilient and to never give up."
Sullivan said the recent Iraq deployment was beneficial not just because his unit was able to help the United States military build relationships with partner nations, but also because it benefitted the Soldiers who participated.
"Although there are many veterans with multiple deployments within our formation, for many Soldiers and young leaders, this was their first deployment experience," Sullivan said. "[In Iraq,] these young Soldiers and leaders were able to gain valuable tactical, operational and cultural experiences."
After resetting equipment and a short amount of rest, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team will get back to the mission of training and building readiness for future missions, Sullivan said.