By David Poe, Northwest GuardianNovember 23, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash -- For the fourth time in seven years, elements of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will deploy in support of Overseas Contingency Operations, yet this will be the unit's first deployment to Afghanistan. "Arrowhead" Soldiers fittingly formed up around their brigade memorial for a colors casing ceremony for their Headquarters unit, along with three of their six battalions at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Nov. 22.
Rainy Pacific Northwest weather wasn't enough to chase off the brigade family and fellow troops and friends from across the installation for the morning ceremony. After the national anthem, sung by an "Arrowhead" Soldier, and the invocation, Col. Charles Webster, Jr., commander of 3rd Bde. 2nd ID, said while the battles in Afghanistan continue, he's confident victory is within coalition forces' grasps, credited in part by deployments such as the one "Arrowhead" Soldiers and Families are getting ready to tackle.
"While the current situation in Afghanistan is not yet decided -- success is attainable," Webster said. "This is a result of many factors, not the least of which is the increase of U.S. forces over the year that's allowing the Afghan government and its citizens to reject the offerings of the Taliban, Haqqani Network and other terrorist networks which are working against them."
He added by crediting not only the deployments themselves but the flexibility and ability to adapt to mission needs. The first of eight, and soon to be nine, Stryker brigades in the Army, "Arrowhead" will deploy without their signature Strykers. Instead they'll be using Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles which Lt. Col. Wayne Brewster, "Arrowhead" deputy commander, said in a press conference last month, with special training, the move to MRAPs while in theater will be "seamless."
"This brigade has always answered its nation's call and achieved its objectives," Webster said, "and there's always been one constant, the Soldiers of this brigade are the best the Army has to offer and they do not quit."
In addition to their headquarters, "Arrowhead" units deploying will be 2-3 Inf. 5-20 Inf., and 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment.
He closed by reminding his troops of their shared responsibility to each other, their Families, and their comrades who've paid the ultimate sacrifice. "We deploy now to Afghanistan with an amazing opportunity to fulfill the promise to not just do another tour, not just to maintain the status quo, but to finish the fight and bring a close to this saga," he said.
Maj. Gen. Lloyd Miles, I Corps chief of staff, also spoke and said while the occasion of a casing ceremony is a time for many emotions, all of them are cased within selfless service and integrity.
"Some of it is excitement and the anticipation of Soldiers to begin the mission," he said, "for others it might be sadness for having to say goodbye to a loved one and a prayer for their safe return. To some, it might be honor for being a part of their own band of brothers, and for others there's a feeling of pride in their loved ones standing in this formation. On this day, and on these occasions, I'm reminded of the words of the great American patriot Thomas Paine. He said during the Revolutionary War, 'if there must be trouble, let it be in my day so that my children may have peace.'"
Staff Sgt. Marcus Pullum, a Soldier from "Arrowhead's" Dakota Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment "Warhorse," said he was ready to deploy again for that peace, and to use today's adversities to better teach his son the meaning of success, whether it be on the field of battle, or in life overall.
"I try to instill my accomplishments into him so when he grows up he will have these life lessons that I've learned," he said.
Pullum said regardless of the change from Iraq to Afghanistan, the mission will stay the same for him and his fellow "Warhorse" and "Arrowhead" troops.
"We're still with the same mindset of winning hearts and minds," he said. "I have full confidence in our unit that we're capably trained to complete that mission."