BASRA, Iraq -- At the halfway point of their current deployment, 209 Soldiers with the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division simultaneously raised their right hands and renewed their oath to serve their country in a time of war during a mass re-enlistment ceremony at five locations across southern Iraq and Kuwait recently.

Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of United States Division-South and the 1st Infantry Division; Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, USD-S deputy commanding general for support; and Brig. Gen. Ricky Gibbs, USD-S deputy commanding general for maneuver each administered the oath of enlistment to 3rd AAB Soldiers in Basra, Nasiriyah and Amarah respectively.

Soldiers came together from 12 different bases across southern Iraq and Kuwait to take part in the ceremonies. Eighty-one Soldiers took the oath in Basra, 64 in Nasiriyah, and 61 in Amarah. In addition, one Soldier took the oath at a smaller base in Amarah and two re-enlisted in Kuwait.

"You have expressed an extension to your commitment to your service to our nation, and not everyone does that in our nation, really, one percent of our fellow citizens. One percent," Brooks said. "That's how small of a group you're in when you say, 'Yes, I will support and defend. Yes, I'll do it again.'"

Brooks credited the Soldiers' chain of command, saying Soldiers will only want to stay in the Army if they have strong leadership and feel they are part of a great organization.

The number 209 is noteworthy as it represents nearly half of the anticipated re-enlistment goal for the upcoming fiscal year. During Fiscal Year 2010, the 3rd AAB's retention goal was 472 and that goal is expected to stay about the same this year.

To have so many Soldiers re-enlist this early in the fiscal year is a tremendous accomplishment for the brigade, said Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Zielsdorf, the brigade's career counselor from Conroe, Texas. He also noted the 209 Soldiers volunteered for a cumulative total of 961 years of service.

"It shows how effective and hard the battalion career counselors work to get their Soldiers' needs, wants and desires met. Not just for the Soldiers, but for their Families as well," Zielsdorf said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Miles Wilson, 3rd AAB senior noncommissioned officer, said the high number of re-enlistments is a direct reflection of the outstanding quality and dedication of this generation's Soldiers.

"The average Soldier re-enlisting today is a specialist on his third deployment. They are combat veterans three times over, and they still want to serve their country and remain in an organization that provides for them and for their Families," he said.

For Sgt. Reginel Tagalicod, , a petroleum supply specialist from Waipahu, Hawaii, assigned to Company B, 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd AAB, this ceremony marks his fourth re-enlistment over an 11-year career. He said his motivation to stay Army is attributed to the Soldiers he serves with every day.

"It's the brotherhood," he said. "It's the people to my left and to my right that keep me going."

Spc. Jonathan McMullen, a cannon crew member from Lindale, Texas, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd AAB, took the re-enlistment oath for the first time and said he plans to stay in until he can complete his college degree.

"Since the fourth grade, I've always wanted to join the military," McMullen said. "I never had a doubt about re-enlisting."