By Jason B. CutshawMay 13, 2010
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Fort Drum leaders took time Friday to sit down with local media and discuss what the future holds for 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers and Family Members.
During the media roundtable, commanders discussed upcoming deployments and redeployments and what the operational tempo will look like in the upcoming months.
"This is the busiest I have seen this division in a long, long time," said Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander. "As our Soldiers prepare to go to war, and come back from war, we are cognizant of what they do for our country and we are taking steps to make sure that not only they are prepared, but also their Families."
Terry said the division headquarters prepares to once again deploy to Afghanistan beginning in September, with 3rd Brigade Combat Team planning to join them the following spring.
"As our Soldiers come and go, you can't help but be proud of these young men and women who have signed up, mostly during wartime, to defend their country," Terry said. "It is hard on our Soldiers, and it is just as hard on our Families. Our goal is to ensure both are taken care of to the best of our abilities, and we won't let them down."
While discussing what is happening within the division, Terry spoke about what Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team are doing while in Iraq and also what 1st Brigade Combat Team is accomplishing since recently deploying to Afghanistan.
"What our Soldiers are accomplishing while deployed is nothing less than amazing," Terry said. "I am very proud of them all, and I am honored to be their leader."
Terry then mentioned 4th Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Polk, La., and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade are now training for future deployments to Afghanistan. He commented that their operational tempo has increased substantially in preparation as they prepare to head into harm's way.
Fort Drum's commander also noted that even though 10th Sustainment Brigade may not have orders to deploy anywhere at this particular time, the brigade is nevertheless training its Soldiers to be prepared whenever they are called upon.
As the general finished his remarks, brigade leaders discussed what their units are doing in preparation for the future.
"As the brigade prepares to deploy in the future, our Soldiers are preparing themselves physically and mentally to head to Afghanistan," said Col. Patrick Frank, 3rd BCT commander.
Frank said the brigade's initial deployment training will begin in earnest in June at Fort Drum and conclude in October. That will be followed by a monthlong training rotation at Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., in November.
"We have some of the best leaders, officers and enlisted Soldiers, who will be taking care of our Soldiers while they are deployed," Frank said. "Our Army leadership training is the best in the world, and it means a lot to our Soldiers when they know they are being led into combat by the best."
After Frank spoke, another brigade commander took time to share what his Soldiers are undertaking to prepare for what the future holds.
"The brigade just returned from Iraq in October," said Col. Pedro Almeida, 10th CAB commander. "We expect that we will be deploying sometime this fall to Regional Command East in support of operations in Afghanistan."
As his Soldiers train to fly into combat in Afghanistan, they also have the unenviable duty of returning to combat within a year after redeploying from Iraq.
To prepare for mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, Almeida said pilots will continue to train at Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks and spend time at Fort Carson, Colo., to practice in the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains.
"We have stepped up our flying time significantly," Almeida said. "I want to thank the local community for being supportive and understanding that what we do is necessary to train our flight crews and allow them to prepare for the upcoming deployment.
"We do our best not to upset our neighbors," he added. "We understand the impact we have on the local areas. We do our best, at every level, to mitigate the impact of noise on the local community. It is something that we recognize and take steps to avoid interrupting our neighbors as much as possible."
Speaking for 1st Brigade Combat Team's leader, Col. Bill Burleson, was the brigade's representative back at Fort Drum.
"The bulk of brigade is engaged in training the Afghan people to become self-sufficient," said Lt. Col. Robert Krenzel, 1st BCT rear detachment commander. "This mission is going very well, and we have already seen the impact of that training and the impact it is having on the Afghan people.
"Here at the rear detachment, we are focused on taking care of the Soldiers and Families," he added. "We are able to serve as a conduit between Families and installation and community agencies.
"Our Families are doing quite well, and our mission is to help serve them as the deployment continues," he added.