SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- The majority of 25th Infantry Division Soldiers began 2009 deployed in Iraq. The Tropic Lightning Div. Headquarters and its 1st Stryker and 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Teams were serving at the front end of a 12-month mission in Northern Iraq as Task Force Lightning and Multi-National Division-North. The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team was nearing the end of a 15-month deployment in support of Multi-National Division-Baghdad, and returned to Hawaii in March.

During its deployment, 25ID was the headquarters of MND-North and led more than 23,000 service members and civilians of Task Force Lightning in a full spectrum of operations in Iraq's seven northern-most provinces, an area nearly the size of Ohio. The mission included improving the governance and economics of the region while improving relationships between ethnic groups in one of the most diverse regions in Iraq.

Task Force Lightning troops also trained and advised Iraqi Security Forces that successfully provided security for provincial elections in January 2009, lessened the level of violence in Mosul, the last insurgent stronghold in Iraq, and took responsibility for security in all cities June 30, 2009 in accordance with the U.S./Iraq security agreement.

25ID oversaw numerous reconstruction efforts and enhancements to essential services for the people of Northern Iraq. In addition to completing 230 projects, the Division initiated 140 more to improve the quality of life for the Iraqi people.

The Soldiers' efforts provided Iraq with better power distribution and infrastructure; 67 new and renovated educational facilities; transportation projects to improve road and rail systems; and the revitalization of market areas to stimulate economic growth.

25ID Soldiers conducted their mission on what Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, Jr., the Commanding General of 25ID and MND-North, called a "three-block the most complicated battlefield in the history of modern warfare."

Soldiers typically engaged in vicious close combat on one block, protected children as they attended school on the next block, and restored water and power on the third - all of this simultaneously. Caslen said the 25ID Soldiers, "were magnificent and you can be justly proud of what they accomplished."

As the "Arctic Wolves" of the 1st Stryker Bde. Combat Team redeployed to Alaska in the fall of 2009, another 25ID unit arrived in Iraq to start its deployment - the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade took responsibility of the aviation mission in MND-North in October.

25ID cased its colors in Iraq Nov. 3, and family and friends gathered at Schofield Barracks, Nov. 19, to celebrate the return of the 25th Inf. Div. Headquarters and the "Broncos" of the 3rd Inf. Bde. Combat Team to Hawaii, marking the end of a challenging, but very successful, twelve-month tour to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom rotation number 9-11.