FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Major General JP McGee, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, cased the division colors July 5 during a ceremony at division headquarters.
The ceremony officially marks the division’s deployment to Europe to assure NATO allies and deter Russian aggression in the region and symbolizes the division’s departure from Fort Campbell. The deployed Screaming Eagles will support the U.S. Army V Corps mission to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank and engage in multinational exercises with partners across the European continent.
Assure and deter
Returning to Europe as a division is a historic moment, McGee said during his remarks at the casing ceremony.
Landing on the continent will bring the 101st Abn. Div. full circle to its roots and inception during the height of World War II, he said.
“On the 15th of August 1942 this division was purpose-built to liberate Europe,” McGee said. “Our first combat operation, the airborne assault of Normandy the 6th of June 1944, is a testament to this fact.”
The deployed 101st Abn. Div. Soldiers will serve as guardians of the legacy of the original Screaming Eagles, he said.
“To be clear about our allies, every one of the countries we will deploy to have contributed forces to the mission of Afghanistan,” McGee said. “Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria all fought and died alongside U.S. forces in response to the attacks against our country on the 11th of September 2001. So, I believe it’s only fair and right for Screaming Eagles to honor this sacrifice and stand alongside our NATO allies at this dangerous moment on the European continent.”
Democratic world order
Aside from honoring commitments to NATO allies, McGee said the deployment is essential to maintain the peace established in Europe at the end of WWII.
That peace, he said, is now under threat.
“On the 24th of February of this year the Russian invasion sought to silence the will of the Ukrainian people and violently subject them to a foreign government,” McGee said. “If Russia succeeds it will not only inspire future aggression by them but will encourage other nations around the world to follow their example.”
The presence of U.S. troops will bring confidence to our NATO allies, he said.
“Already, leaders and people in Europe recognize that something is different, that the 101st Abn. Div. is returning to the European continent,” McGee said. “This deployment is unique and significant.”
In the European Command theater of operations, U.S. Soldiers are now the troops closest to the fight, he said, and are ready should action be required.
“For 80 years the 101st Abn. Div. has had the unofficial motto: ‘If You Want it Done, Ask the 101,’” McGee said. “Today our nation is asking the 101 to do a critically important mission, a mere 250 miles away from the frontlines of the fight in Ukraine, knowing full well that no matter what happens in Europe we will get it done.”
Call to unity
McGee called on the Fort Campbell community and its leaders to commit to coming together during this time to support the Families of those deploying to Europe.
The community has a history of supporting its own and now is no different, he said.
“To all our Families of our deployed Soldiers, know that this installation and this community stand ready to support you and that those remaining behind will always be there for you,” McGee said. “To the community leaders we have here, we once again call on you to add strength, comradeship, and support to the Families of those who are deploying. This is unlike the deployments we did to Iraq or Afghanistan, but for many this is the first time separating from their loved ones.”
The colors will remain cased until after the command team’s arrival at the European Command theater of operations. Unfurling the colors on European soil will do more than announce the arrival of the 101st Abn. Div., McGee said, because the American flag is a symbol of freedom from oppression.
“Our flag will bring hope and resolve to our allies, it will bring fear to those who represent tyranny and oppression, and it will serve as our strength for our entire time deployed,” he said. “On our 80th anniversary of the foundation of this incredible division, we have the opportunity to do something very special and to return to where it all started. Our mission is clear, our purpose is just, and we are ready.”