By By Sgt. Lindsey Bradford, Multi-National Corps-Iraq Public Affairs OfficeNovember 25, 2009
In November 2008, Brig. Gen. Peter Bayer, Multi-National Corps-Iraq chief of staff, stood before the Corps Analysis and Control Element at Fort Lewis, Wash., to wish the Soldiers of I Corps' CACE well as they prepared to head to Iraq.
On Nov. 20, he stood before the Soldiers again - this time in Baghdad and, this time, to thank them for successfully completing their mission over the past 12 months.
"My how fast a year passes," Bayer said. "It was then that we stood in the cold and rain at Fort Lewis as I said goodbye to you. I told you that you would be successful at completing this mission, and you have done a phenomenal job getting it done."
The I Corps CACE deployed in early December 2008 to serve as the Multi-National Corps-Iraq analysis and control element. It was the first I Corps headquarters element to deploy, as the rest of I Corps followed in March.
The CACE was responsible for providing intelligence and analytical support to ongoing full-spectrum operations, which created safe and secure conditions and allowed the Iraqi government to grow, said CACE Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Ross, Jr., a Sunbury, Pa., native.
"You have been the brain trust of Multi-National Corps-Iraq. You have empowered the commanding general and the leaders of the corps to make good decisions," Bayer said.
The Soldiers and civilians working in the CACE were able to provide Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., commanding general of MNC-I, with information that allowed him to position various combat forces and enablers on the battlefield, Ross said.
"We provided intelligence fusion for the entire theater, and assisted the (multi-national divisions) by helping paint a bigger picture," he added.
The Soldiers ran 24-hour operations, usually working 12 to 14 hour shifts, to gather and analyze intelligence collected throughout Iraq. The CACE produced more than 25,000 products over the course of its deployment, which averages to about 70 products a day, said Maj. Gregory Ford, CACE Chief and Monmouth, Ore., native.
Ford and Ross credit the CACE's success to the Soldiers who have worked diligently to ensure mission success.
"I have some of the finest officers, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers in the United States Army," Ford said. "Their professionalism and dedication are superb, and I would be honored to serve with them in combat again."
In fact, many of the Soldiers have served and deployed together in previous units before joining the I Corps staff prior to its first deployment since the Korean War, said Ross.
"Many of the Soldiers had just returned from a 15-month deployment and came right back," Ford said.
Although U.S. forces shifted focus from combat to advise and assist roles, allowing Iraqi Security Forces to take charge, the CACE continued to operate at a high operational tempo.
The CACE provided updates to Jacoby twice a week, while the work done by its politics, ISF and key leader engagement teams were used by multiple units throughout Iraq, Ford said.
"There has been a steady reduction in U.S. forces and a steady increase in Iraqi responsibilities. We have worked to grow closer and support the Iraqi Security Forces to the greatest extent possible," Ford said. "The work done by the CACE analysts has been truly impressive."
"I told you there would be some hard days, and there were," Bayer said. "But that's when your heart kicks in, and your spirit takes over. I told you, you were trained and ready and I was right."
He said there are not enough people to thank the Soldiers for all they have done by enabling Jacoby to confidently make decisions in a complex environment.
"I understand there are many things you have sacrificed at home to be here, and I thank you for that," Bayer said.
With a little over two weeks left in the deployment, leaders and Soldiers of the CACE have been preparing and transitioning with Soldiers of the III Corps CACE to ensure quality analysis and a smooth transition.
Ross said, "Third Corps will do excellent with this mission. They are well-trained, eager and energetic."