Fort Riley, KS – The last Soldiers from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division returned home to Fort Riley, Kansas on Nov. 16, marking the end of the Brigade’s nine month deployment to the Republic of Korea.
The 2nd ABCT replaced the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division last February and assumed the Korea rotational force mission as part of the United States’ commitment to maintaining peace and deterring aggression in northeast Asia.
The “Dagger” brigade deployed more than 3,500 Soldiers and over 200 tracked vehicles including M1A2 Abrams Tanks, M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M109A7 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzers and other combat equipment.
The 2nd ABCT served as the eighth BCT to deploy to Korea since 2015 when the Army began rotational deployments in support of our alliance with the Republic of Korea. The brigade provided an armor capability on the peninsula to deter regional threats and strengthen peace in northeast Asia.
Over the past nine months, the brigade conducted training, worked closely with our Korean partners, and supported The United States Forces Korea’s efforts to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The “Dagger” brigade increased readiness and interoperability with our Korean partners through the successful completion of a United States Forces Korea Combined Command Post Exercise, two Korea Combat Training Center rotations, and numerous crew gunneries and live fire exercises.
"We were the first unit ever to have a company sized or larger element at KCTC," said Sgt. 1st Class James Davis, KCTC liaison, Headquarters Headquarters Company, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. "We learned how to work inside the ROK command structure to get the things that we needed done so that we can better collaborate and reach the end goal to complete the mission."
In addition to working with Korean units during exercises, Korean Augmentation to the United States Army Soldiers, or KATUSAs, were integrated into the Brigade at all levels from tank crews to infantry squads to companies and unit staffs. The KATUSA program has existed since the 1950s and provides a critical capability necessary for the US Army’s continued success in Korea.
The Brigade also completed the first Paladin road march in Korea since 2016 to demonstrate the brigade's readiness for contingency operations.
When the brigade was not training, it also supported USFK in their COVID-19 response efforts. Soldiers from the “Dagger” brigade managed and operated quarantine facilities for every incoming Soldier, Family, and Civilian to the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, the brigade was responsible for personnel screening at access control points for major installations such as Camp Humphreys, Camp Casey, and Yongsan Garrison.
“We understand that we are here to ensure that everyone is healthy and safe to be on post,” said Pfc. Mason Williams, an M1 Armor Crewman from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. “It’s important that we are manning the gates and are here to help stop the spread of the COVID-19.”
On Nov. 11, the 2nd ABCT rolled up and cased their colors and transferred authority of the rotational mission to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, completing their nine month rotation.
“The brigade has accomplished all tasks assigned in a unique, and complex area of operations by building on the alliance and maintaining readiness,” said Col. Thomas “Bull” Smith, commander of the 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. “By being diligent and staying healthy, Dagger joined our Korean allies in multiple Korean Training Center rotations; executed live fires that range from M4 to 155mm; safely maneuvered throughout the Korean peninsula; delivering supplies; conducting escort missions; and executing reconnaissance. Dagger stood ready for all assigned missions, spread through four bases of operations, on call for the moment in time the Dagger call sign would be heard over the net.”