By Sgt. Kimberly Johnson, 196th MPAD, 1st AD, USD-C Public AffairsSeptember 2, 2010
BAGHDAD - United States Division-Center now has two armored vehicles parked in front of its headquarters, thanks to coordination between 1st Armored Division and 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division leaders.
An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle were delivered, Aug. 25, and now welcome Soldiers of USD-C as they enter the front doors of the headquarters.
The 1st AD has no tanks in Iraq because all the tanks that belong to the division are at Fort Bliss, Texas, where the headquarters will be moved once the armored division redeploys in December, said Command Sgt. Maj. William Johnson, command sergeant major of 1st AD.
"The significance of having tanks in front of the headquarters, here, is to boost the morale of the troops, and the morale of the commander and I," Command Sgt. Maj.Johnson said. "It's always nice to go back to our grass roots of having tanks and Bradley's around."
Command Sergeant Major Johnson said he has been on the quest for tanks to display for more than seven months. With help from a colleague with 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st AAB, 3rd ID, the quest is over.
"My team was more than happy to help make this display possible for the (1st Armd. Div.) headquarters," said Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Cook, command sergeant major of 2/7 Inf., 1st AAB, 3rdID, who provided the tanks for display. "For the division, the significance is the proud history of the armor and all its might. It's a big motivation to the Soldiers of the division, no matter where they are."
Command Sergeant Major Johnson said when he deployed in 2003, Iraq was unstable and tanks were used in combat. The Iraqis were beginning to put together their security forces but were not very well trained at the time.
"The second time I came back was for the surge (from) 2006 to 2008. We partnered with our Iraqi brothers, we were training them more, but still, the focus was (defeating the enemy)," he said.
Command Sergeant Major Johnson said when compared to his previous deployments, he notices the Iraqis have made significant improvements in building a more secure, stable and sovereign country for themselves.
Even though tanks have not seen combat for a few years, they are still seeing action as the Americans train, advise and assist the Iraqis.
"The (1st AAB, 3rdID), currently under the 1st AD, is training the Iraqis on the M1A1 (Abrams Main Battle) Tank," Command Sgt. Maj. Johnson said. "The Iraqis are eager to train everyday and they are doing a great job."
Now that tanks have different roles in Iraq, other than battle, Command Sgt. Maj. Johnson said he is grateful to have two on display.
"I want to thank the guys from the (1st AAB, 3rd ID) for bringing these tanks out here," Command Sgt. Maj. Johnson said. "I appreciate it, the commander appreciates it and all the Soldiers of the division appreciate it."