FORT STEWART, Ga. - Major General Tony Cucolo, 3rd Infantry Division commander, returned from his year-long deployment in Iraq, along with many members of the division's senior staff, in a welcome home ceremony at Cottrell Field, Nov. 5.

He and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, former 3rd ID command sergeant major and 3rd ID senior enlisted advisor during the deployment, unveiled the division colors, officially signaling the division commander's return home.

The division oversaw northern Iraq under his command, including the parliamentary elections in March. Major General Cucolo added he was proud of the Soldiers and what they accomplished.
"We went from 21,000 Soldiers [in United States Division - North] to 9,600 Soldiers in the span of three months," he said. "And there was no change in the operational tempo. There was no change in actions on the ground. To the Iraqis, it appeared seamless, and that's the most important thing."

Major General Cucolo continued that northern Iraq is a safer place than it was at the beginning of the war.

"When I got on the plane yesterday morning, we had the lowest level of violence since 2004 in my area," he said. "It's still a tough security situation, but knowing it was brought down to a level the Iraqi security forces could handle, that's a source of pride also."

Sameh Youssef served as 3rd ID's senior analyst and cultural advisor. He stated the work 3rd ID did in Iraq was important and will have a positive impact on Iraq.

"The division has done a great number of services to the Iraqi people," he said. "There was a great amount of construction, and a great amount of money that we spent over there to help the Iraqi people and to rebuild the nation. There was a lot of good change from the time we arrived to the time we left. It's such a great honor."

Youssef added that when he first arrived in Iraq six years ago there were only two battalions in the Iraqi Army and now it has ten divisions, and that he will continue to help the Iraqi people any way he can even though he has returned to America.

Even though Maj. Gen. Cucolo has returned home, there are still a number of 3rd ID Soldiers who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.