“Telling the First Team Story”

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008

(Photo by Sgt. Cheryl Cox, 1st Cav. Div.Public Affairs)

A Joyous Homecoming Hug
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jesse Greenberg, a Soldier with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade hugs his wife, Olga, following the homecoming ceremony held Dec. 21 at Cooper Field. The couple are reunited after a long 15-month deployment to Iraq. See Page 5 for full article.

More Than a Million Served by Site
By Sgt. Cheryl Cox 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs Viewed more than a million times, it continues to bring families and Soldiers together by spreading information. Since the 1st Cavalry Division deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the summer of 2006, the website has been an invaluable resource to First Team Soldiers and family members. “I think the most important way we use the web is to pass “hot” information to Families. We use it to spread good information…and that prevents rumors,” said Col. Larry Phelps, the commander of the 1st Cavalry Division rear detachment. “We have been able to widen the circle of Town Hall participation to a world wide audience. I met a mom at a Welcome Home ceremony last week, and she lives in Italy. She watched the Town Hall ceremony every month faithfully, and kept informed that way. “Another key to the web is that it allowed us to include extended families, (moms, dads, grandparents, friends, comSee

Million Page 3

Page 2

Looking Back

Jan. 16, 2008

Commander Visits Taji
Following a ceremony recognizing some of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s top performing Soldiers, Gen. David H. Petraeus praises the brigade during a visit to Camp Taji, Iraq Dec. 31 for the progress it has made in its area of responsibility throughout its 15-month deployment to Iraq.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Ironhorse Brigade Reflects on Progress
By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – When the senior leadership and Soldiers of the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division first arrived to Iraq nearly 15 months ago, the security situation here was quite different from the one they now experience as they patrol the streets throughout their area of operations. According to Maj. Patrick Michaelis, the Ironhorse brigade’s operations officer, the brigade has seen a “phenomenal change” from having 150 enemy attacks per week for the first seven to 10 weeks in theater to having only about 10 significant events per week, now mostly involving the finding of weapons caches and improvised explosive devices with only isolated incidents of coordinated enemy attacks. “The shift in atmosphere of our operational environment has moved away from individual security and safety to normalcy which has manifested itself in a concern for governance,” said Michaelis. “Spectacular attacks are now the exception and not the rule.” “If you had asked last year if we were fighting a counterinsurgency, it would have been hard to say yes, rather we were in the center of a low-level ethno-centric civil war,” added Michaelis. Michaelis credits much of the brigade’s success as a combined result of the troop surge which began in early 2007 and reconciliation efforts along with other underlying factors. Early on in the deployment, the brigade began establishing joint security stations and Coalition outposts in the neighborhoods in which it patrols. “One of the tactics we implemented as a manifestation of the surge was putting ourselves dead center in contentious areas, going where the extremists sanctuaries were along with targeting Al Qaeda financial assets,” said Michaelis. “These efforts forced a change in the differences between this year and last year.” “Al Qaeda’s tactics of extorting the locals which led to the Awakening in (Al Anbar province) gave rise to the opportunity of formerly irreconcilable forces aligning with the government and Coalition to work toward the definable future that we’re in now.” Sunnis and Shias first began coming together in late January and early February in the brigade’s 2nd “Lancer” Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment operating environment in Abu Ghraib as tribal sheiks joined local leaders with more concrete results of Reconciliation efforts manifesting themselves in April and May of 2007, according to Michaelis. Eventually, similar things began happening in areas patrolled by the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment; the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment which was attached to the Ironhorse Brigade out of Fort Lewis, Wash.; and the 2nd “Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment also began to see changes as former AQI members began breaking away from the extremist organizations and aligning themselves with the government. “There was a definite polarization between Sunni and Shia tribes and now they are finding themselves recognizing their differences, yet are working toward a common goal.” Despite a significant drop in enemy activity over the past six months, the brigade which operates in two qadas (the Taji qada and Abu Ghraib qadas, which are equivalent to counties or parishes) and a small part of the Al Anbar province, still remains vigilant in its efforts to maintain current security gains while working with See

Reflect Page 9

Commanding General: Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr. Public Affairs Officer: Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl Command Information Supervisor: Master Sgt. Dave Larsen Senior Editor: Sgt. Nicole Kojetin Editor: Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma Contributing Writers: Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, Sgt. Robert J. Strain, Sgt. Cheryl Cox and Sgt. Robert Yde

Contact the Crossed Sabers at (254) 287-6162 or e-mail jeffrey.ledesma@us.army.mil The Crossed Sabers is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of the Crossed Sabers are not necessarily official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, Department of the Army or the 1st Cavalry Division. All editorial content of the Crossed Sabers is prepared, edited, provided and approved by the 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs Office.

Page 3


Jan. 16, 2008

Division Site Punches in a Million Webpage Hits
From Page 1 munities) in the flow of information, something we listed as an objective for this rotation and something the web enabled us to do,” Phelps said. While there were changes in webmasters and appearance during the deployment, the webmaster who redesigned the site to how it looks today was Tiffany Nix, who has been the division’s webmaster for the past 11 months. Many of these changes were not just cosmetic - they have improved the ability of families to stay informed regardless of their location. “We have made information readily accessible to the families through RSS Feeds, the hot topic area and by having links to pertinent information on the home page,” said Nix. “The site is easier to navigate which makes it much easier on the user, especially if they do not have a lot of web browsing experience. Having the publications as buttons on the menu makes it easier for the families to get to these whereas on the old site they had to be on the home page to access the links to the first team publications.” Although the website continues to be improved and is viewed by thousands of family member everyday, it is also used to maintain the flow of information from Iraq. When things happen within the units or the division as a whole the families want to know… and they want to know now. “It has taken down the

Screen shot of the current home page for the 1st Cavalry Division website. geographical separation between families who live here in Central Texas and families living elsewhere. Every day I meet families who have kept in touch and kept informed through the magic of the web,” explained Phelps. “It is, simply put, “virtual CAV”…and a Godsend for families who can’t physically be here. All families are important, and this better allows us to touch those not close by.” As the deployment comes to an end and the 1st Cav Troopers march across Cooper Field almost daily, the website is still being used to pass information to the families. “As the flights are scheduled for the Soldiers to come home, the ceremony times are posted on the website,” said Nix. “The Returning Heroes Information link on the main page has all the information the families need for attending the ceremonies – to include time and date, directions and instructions on how to get to the ceremony field.” One of the most important factors in making the website family-friendly has been the input from the families. “We have solicited family feedback and implemented their suggestions. We made the pull-down menus more ‘intuitive’…we have posted topics they are interested in,” explained Phelps. “We have done our best to keep the information fresh and easy to get to. In the 1st CAV, we had a saying on Rear Detachment… ‘Keep informed, Keep in touch, Keep the faith’. I think this website has improved families’ ability to do all three.” When asked, the webmaster was nothing but humble and gracious about all the hard work she had done. “I am more than honored to be a part of the First Team and to be able to put my skills to use in a place that needs it most,” she said. “What I do is only an ounce of my gratitude to the Soldiers and their families for the sacrifice they make.” Phelps ended his interview with one final thought about the webmaster and this milestone in Cav history. “This is a tribute to all of the hard work by the public affairs staff, both forward and rear, and to all of the Rear Detachment folks that work so hard to provide feedback and information. And it proves my contention that we have the best webmaster in the world! “It does us all a lot of good to know Families can rely on this great website,” Phelps said.

Page 4

good present.” Rodriguez’s husband, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, missed Christmas at home last year after deploying with his unit in October of 2006. Rodriguez said that the day after Thanksgiving, she found out her husband might be coming home in December. “It was awesome,” the Miami native said. But it wasn’t just the families that were surprised by the Christmas morning homecoming. Sgt. Cirildo Guerrero, a logistics specialist also with the 15th BSB, said that many of the Soldiers on the flight didn’t know they would be home for Christmas either. The day was extra special for Guerrero, who also got to see his 2-monthold son Cid for the first time. Before this he had only gotten to see photos. Rodriguez said that her and her husband don’t have any big plans for the holidays, instead they plan to spend time together at home with their 2year-old daughter Ariana.

Jan. 16, 2008

Troops Make it Back Home in the Nick of Time for Christmas
By Sgt. Robert J. Strain 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs While the sleigh that landed at Fort Hood's Robert Gray Army Airfield a little after midnight on the morning of Dec. 25 didn't belong to Santa Claus, it was packed with presents for friends and families of the 1st Cavalry Division. So friends and families waited at the division’s parade field with the DJ playing some traditional and contemporary Christmas music and a giant Christmas tree standing on the field in front of them. At around 2 a.m. the “presents” arrived. Five white buses filled with nearly 200 Soldiers from the division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team pulled up in front of the cheering families at Cooper Field. The Soldiers got off the buses, marched across the field, and after a few remarks by Brig. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, the Fort Hood Installation Commander, they were released to their waiting friends and families. For many of the Soldiers' families, the timing came as a bit of a surprise. “It's a good feeling, because we weren't expecting him home until January,” said Sylvia Rodriguez. “It's a

(Photo by Sgt. Robert J. Strain, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, gives a great big hug to his wife Sylvia following the Christmas morning homecoming for Rodriguez and nearly 200 more Soldiers of the 2nd BCT.

Page 5

work you have done. It is wonderful to see all you again.” Following a 15-month tour in Iraq as the Multi-National Division – Baghdad commander, Fil is proud of all the First Team has done and continues to do in Iraq. Another family that will have their Soldier home for the holidays is the Montgomery family. “Aaron is the third of our five children, said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Montgomery, of the 20th Special Forces Group, which is based out of Louisville, Ky. “I have been to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice, so being able to share and understand each other’s experiences is something that will be special between the two of us. It will also be a big part of his readjustment process. Being able to talk to someone and know that they understand what you have experienced is a very important. But the one thing I want to say right now is ‘Welcome Home,’” Montgomery added. Before releasing the families to go find their loved ones in the crowd of more than 200 Soldiers, Fil told the families why he is so very proud of all the 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers. “This is now two tours to

Jan. 16, 2008

Holiday Wishes Granted for 1st Cav Families
By Sgt. Cheryl Cox 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs Christmas is almost upon the 1st Cavalry Division and thousands of military families are wishing one special Christmas wish – to have their Soldier home from Iraq for the holidays. The flights and ceremonies are stacking up, families are getting calls that there Soldiers are on the way, and before Christmas is over, several hundred more Soldiers will be home with their families. One particular Soldier who will be spending Christmas with his wife, Wendy, and their two daughters, is Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, who arrived home Dec. 20 and spoke to the troopers and families during the homecoming ceremony. Fil, who hails from Portola Valley, Calif., said “It has been a long 15 months and I am very proud of all the hard Iraq that the 1st Cavalry Division has completed,” said Fil, “and I strongly believe that the progress that we have placed in motion will continue long after we have left, and that Iraq will never go back to the way it was before we arrived because of the work all of you have done.”

(Photos by Sgt. Cheryl Cox, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Traverse City, Mich., native Col. Daniel Shanahan, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade commander, hugs his wife, Mindy, and reaches out for his oldest son, Patrick during the homecoming ceremony held Dec. 21 at 1st Cavalry Division’s paradefield at Fort Hood.

Capt. Braden Camp, with 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, hold a sign that was given to him during a homecoming ceremony in front of 1st Cavalry Division headquarters building on Cooper Field. Camp is one of more than 200 Soldiers who arrived home from Iraq Dec. 20.

Page 6

and that’s a very big thing,” said Capt. Jason Fees of the 329 MITT who hails from Bartlesville, Okla. “They coordinated the security for the patrol and arranged a meeting with local leaders and the sheiks to make this happen. It shows the positive types of things the Iraqi Army is doing here.” “It’s been a great opportunity for the Iraqi Army to interface with children at the school, local tribal sheiks and local leaders,” said Hoy. “The event also serves an awesome opportunity to give some cultural awareness to the Iraqi children and American children back home in the states.” Along with the packages, children at the Communion Lutheran Church sent photos of themselves working in classrooms at the church and packaging the items. They also included pictures of American children playing soccer, which is a favorite sport for many Iraqi children, along with photos of American children going to school and doing class work. Hoy told the Jerf Al Mila school children through an interpreter that he would send their photos to the children in the U.S. who sent the packages so they could see what Iraqi classrooms are like and to let them know that the items they sent had been received. Improvements in security in Jerf Al Mila have allowed the opportunity for more missions to take place that concern projects and community relations efforts, such as the school visit, many of which have involved the participation of the Iraqi Army. “We’ve seen a lot of positive results in this area and the levels of significant events and

Jan. 16, 2008

Iraqi Army Brings Smiles to Baghdad Kids
By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs JERF AL MILA, Iraq -Iraqi soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) brought smiles to the faces of children at a local elementary school in Jerf Al Mila, northwest Baghdad Dec. 17, by delivering donated school supplies and care packages. The Iraqi troops, who are continuing to build trust and relationships with the local people, coordinated the mission and handed out toys, notebooks, pencils, crayons, candy and clothes among many other items to boys and girls in each classroom. The packages were sent to Iraq by American elementary school children who attend the Communion Lutheran Church in Sterling, Va. As the Iraqi troops entered the Jerf Al Mila school, children began waving to the Iraqi soldiers and asked the troops to sit next to them. Prior to handing out the items, the Iraqi troops, school officials and local leaders sorted each of the items to be handed out. A few American advisors with the 329 Military Transition Team were on hand to observe the event. “The Iraqi soldiers really are happy to do this and you can see the joy they are bringing to these children’s lives today,” said Conowingo, Md. native Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Hoy, a signal intelligence noncommissioned officer who works for the 329 Military Transition Team on Camp Taji. “They (Iraqi troops in the 3rd Battalion) did all the planning and coordinated the event

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

An Iraqi boy smiles after receiving a soccer ball from an Iraqi Army soldier with the 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) in northwest Baghdad Dec. 17. hostilities have definitely declined,” said Hoy. “The Iraqi Army has been able to become much more involved in the community here.” According to Hoy, what is taking place in the village has involved a concerted effort by the local Iraqi people working with Iraqi Security Forces, tribal sheiks, local leaders and Coalition Forces to end sectarian violence. “There were a lot of factors which provided the ingredients for what is going on now to include the troop surge, reconciliation efforts with tribal sheiks and local leaders being very proactive in the process, increased Iraqi Army involvement and the Iraqi security volunteers,” added Hoy. “In the beginning in some of our areas, we had fixed, Iraqi Army sites where the roads were heavy with improvised explosive devices. Now we typically don’t run into those types of problems.” “It’s also very rewarding to see the results of what the Soldiers who were here before us have done,” said Hoy. “The (U.S.) Soldiers in Dagger troop, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment who currently operate here have done an outstanding job in this area with civil affairs projects and building long lasting relationships that we, as members of the military transition team, have been able to share in.” The Iraqi troops in the 3rd Bn. often participate in joint operations in the village with their U.S. counterparts in Troop D, 1st Bn., 82nd Field Artillery Regiment which is attached to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment. Advisors from the 329 MITT often take part in these operations to assist the Iraqi troops, added Hoy. Hoy said he sees a time in the not too distant future when the Iraqi Army eventually takes full responsibility for security in the area of operations. “The Iraqi Army is getting better everyday through outstanding leadership,” said Hoy.

Page 7

Ironhorse Troops Spread Open ‘Old Glory’ During Commemoration of Famous Crossing

Jan. 16, 2008

By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Soldiers from the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division unfurled 150 flags in a ceremony here Dec. 25 to mark the 231st anniversary of Gen. George Washington, commander of the Continental Army and later the first President of the United States, crossing the Delaware River during Christmas of 1776. Maj. Kurt Connell, operations officer for the Ironhorse Brigade’s 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, who hails from Greenfield, Ind., helped organize the event which is part of a program designed to observe special historical dates on which flags will be unfurled in Iraq and then given to combat veterans and others in the U.S. “They’ll be going to Soldiers, veterans and citizens who have supported the cause of freedom in some way or another,” said Connell, who explained that many of them will be sent to veterans of World War II or Korea and their families as well as to the families of military service members killed in action. “Some will also go to Soldiers who have gone that extra mile to take care of their peers and comrades.” “The genesis of this was a program set up by the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div.) similar to this one where they would take flags with them on missions outside the

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Soldiers wtih 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div, unfurl flags during a ceremony here Dec. 25 wire on special dates or to celebrate someone’s birthday,” stated Connell, adding that those flags were also shipped to veterans back in the states. Once Connell learned of the program, he enlisted his wife’s help to start a similar program in the 1st BSTB. “My wife asked me what we needed and we had plenty of shampoo, soap and Q-tips, and so I thought of the program and from there, my wife drove the process,” Connell explained. After Connell’s wife, Robyn, contacted a few friends, word of the program spread to local businesses, churches and individual donors in Indiana-Connell’s homestate--who then sent the flags directly to Connell’s unit address. “I was overwhelmed with the number of letters, the amount of flags coming in— sometimes it was almost too much to manage—but it was well worth it,” he said. According to Connell, the choice of Washington crossing the Delaware as a historical theme for the flag unfurling held a lot of meaning for the Ironhorse Soldiers participating in the event, especially with regards to sacrificing time spent at home for time spent in Iraq throughout the holiday season. “We had to pick a day, to unfurl the flags, that had significance,” Connell said. “George Washington, along with Alexander Hamilton, James Madision, James Monroe, John Marshall and a host of others endured tremendous hardships and sacrificed greatly of themselves when they crossed the Delaware Rive to attack the enemy garrison at Trenton, N.J. These sacrifices and many more like them gave the hope of freedom and new life to our American nation.” “This (the river crossing) was George Washington’s second Christmas in a row spent in the field for the cause of freedom. The first was in 1775 which he spent outside of Boston containing the British Army camped there,” Connell said. “Like Washington and his team of patriots, the Ironhorse team has also sacrificed the

comforts of home for a second Christmas in a row to give the gifts of hope and a new life to another great nation (Iraq).” Connell explained that he has seen first hand the effect that giving the flags has had on the troopers who have received them in honor of their service. “We’ve given a few to departing troops and there was not a single one of them that didn’t get choked up which is a sign of how meaningful it is for them to receive something like this,” said Connell. Buffalo, N.Y. native Pvt. Jamie Hardy, a signal support systems specialist with Headquarters Company, 1st BSTB, said that the significance of the event was not lost on her. “This really was a great experience,” said Hardy, a signal support systems specialist for Headquarters Company, 1st BSTB of the event. “Although there can be a lot of hard times when you’re away from your family over the holiday season, what we’re doing here and the sacrifices we make will eventually pay off and hopefully the Iraqi people will be able to celebrate all holidays in peace and security.” Giving the flags to the veterans, Soldiers and other military service members who have also sacrificed for their country is very much in line with the spirit of Christmas, Hardy added. Accompanying each flag is a certificate of authenticity signed by Connell stating that the flags were unfurled on Camp Taji during the anniversary of the river crossing.

Page 8


Jan. 16, 2008

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

After talking to a local sheik about reopening a bridge, Soldiers from 2nd ‘Lancer’ Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment and 2nd “Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment walk past a bridge during a Dec. 18 patrol. Pictured in the foreground are infantrymen, Irving, Texas native Cpl. Allen Doggett (center) and Spc. Juan Ramirez (right) of Shafter, Calif.

Lancers Bridge Cultural Gaps
By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs ABU OBAED, Iraq – Soldiers in Company A, 2nd ‘Lancer’ Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division are continuing their work by patrolling in the communities near here building relationships and trust while operating out of a Coalition outpost (COP) west of Baghdad. On one such patrol on Dec. 18, the Co. A troops examined a bridge in the area that was blocked by Coalition Forces earlier in 2007 to prevent insurgents using the bridge to transport weapons for the purpose of launching attacks against civilian targets and U.S. troops. Thanks to security improvements in their area of operations, the Co. A troops are hoping to reopen the bridge with the help of a local area sheik and other local leaders. “The bridge was originally blocked because it was a path of movement for Al Qaeda,” said Walnut Creek, Calif. native 1st Sgt. Erik Marquez, top noncommissioned officer for Co. A. “Now that we have better control of the area and the help of the Iraqi security volunteers, we will be able to unblock the bridge so the local populace can make use of it, allowing them more freedom of movement throughout their own tribal areas.” Co. A routinely works with Soldiers from the 2nd ‘Stallion’ Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment operate, so for this particular patrol in which the Soldiers met a local tribal sheik to assess the bridge, the 2nd Bn. 5th Cav. Regt. troops were joined by a few Stallion Soldiers. “We have an information sharing, working partnership (with the ‘Stallions’.),” said Marquez. “So we did a joint patrol on the bridge to give their commander an understanding and awareness of some of the things we’re doing.” Work will begin on the bridge in the coming weeks, however, the Co. A troops are not just building bridges but are working on other projects as well that will help the Iraqi people help themselves rebuild their nation, according to Marquez. “They’re (our troops are) doing an excellent job going from a purely security role to doing both that along with working alongside the local Iraqi people in helping them rebuild many of the things that Al Qaeda in Iraq has destroyed,” added Marquez. “It’s not exactly what we were trained for, but our guys have taken to it pretty well.” Several months ago, working alongside members of the 1st BCT’s Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, ePRT Baghdad-5, and Civil Affairs specialists from the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion, the troops in Co. A assisted villagers in


Building Page 10

Page 9

Brigade Support Battalion trained more than 400 Iraqi soldiers through its combat life saver course. Thousands of recruits in the villages of Abu Ghraib and Taji were vetted by the Iraqi government and local Iraqi Police departments to become potential police officers through recruiting drives. Soldiers in the brigade’s 2nd Bn., 5th Cav. Regt.; 2nd Battalion, 8th Cav. Regt. and the 1st Squadron, 7th Cav. Regt. all aided in these efforts. To date, the combined efforts to build police forces in villages in the Ironhorse AO have resulted in more than 1,500 Iraqi Police graduating from the Iraqi Police Academy in Baghdad and at the training facility on Forward Operating Base India. The brigade’s Soldiers also assisted IPs and government leaders with the standing up of police stations such as the one in Agar Quf which opened in December. “As security continues to improve and displaced Iraqi citizens return to their hometowns, there is a need to develop a more sophisticated approach to law enforcement because criminal elements may also be returning into the area,” Michaelis said. “There has to be an investment in the Iraqi Police beyond what is currently required and allocated against the police force.” Within towns such as Sab Al Bor, that had a population of 2,600 upon the brigade’s arrival in theater, displaced persons are returning to their homes at a rate of 25 to 30 families per day and the population has increased over the past four months to nearly 25,000 people. In the villages, the brigade has also seen the economy improving in the form of many newly opened businesses. In Taji Market prior to the brigade’s arrival in the area, there were 125 shops but now has the village has 340. Abu Ghraib’s 370 shops have increased to 900 while the city of Fira Shia which had no shops, now has 20. Most of the other villages in Ironhorse areas have seen similar progress. New economic opportunities are being seen in the Ironhorse operating environment in the forms of employment. The concerned local citizens, who are currently

Jan. 16, 2008

Brigade Reviews Their 15-month Rotation
From Page 2 its joint partners, stated Michaelis. “Although the tension in the air is gone and a there’s a feeling of opportunity and optimism, there’s no doubt that the bad guys are still out there,” said the operations officer. “We’re prepared to respond to them with lethal force if necessary.” During their rotation, the brigade, working alongside its Iraqi counterparts in the Iraqi Police, Iraqi security volunteers and Iraqi Army troops in the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 2nd and 3rd Brigades of the 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized), has detained 86 high-ranking senior leaders in various extremist organizations to include Al Qaeda. The brigade found and disposed of 724 improvised explosive devices—many of which 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion troops found while clearing routes. The brigade also uncovered 180 weapons caches. All of this was done while teaming in joint operations that not only involved partnering with Iraqi military, police and volunteer forces but included the participation of Estonian and Macedonian troops also based on Camp Taji and embedded with 1st BCT Soldiers. Over the course of the deployment, the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment fired more than 6,400 rounds from its M109A6 Paladin howitzers in support of counterfire missions to suppressive fire missions as well as hitting pre-planned targets. They have also cleared routes for combat missions along with providing security for the base camp here. Nearly 12,000 combined Critical Infrastructure Security volunteers and Iraqi security volunteers have partnered with Iraqi Security Forces and the BCT. They man the 190 checkpoints throughout the Ironhorse Area of Operations. The brigade assisted military transition teams based on Camp Taji by partnering with various Iraqi Army units to train them. In one such partnership, the brigade’s Charlie Medical Company, 115th

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Roundup, Mont. native Col. Paul E. Funk II (right), commander, 1st Bridgade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division visits a traffic control point (TCP) near Naif Al Hasan, Iraq in June 2007 with Lt. Col. Scott Efflandt (center), commander, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, who hails from Rock Island, Ill. and Capt. Nels Hanson, commander, Company C, 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. being paid for providing security under a temporary Coalition program will eventually be employed by the Iraqi government. In another employment initiative, the brigade has worked to assist the Iraqi government in creating programs very similar to Job Corps, established in the 1930s in the U.S., to provide temporary employment for Iraqi citizens through various civil improvement projects such as trash collection and work on roads and other construction-type projects. “When the people have hope in the form of jobs to feed their families and education for their children, this goes much farther toward solidifying security gains than a gun on every street,” said Michaelis. “The people are now worried about electricity and water (along with other essential services) which are all things we as Americans feel is an obligation by government to provide.” “These are things the Iraqi government is working slowly towards,” Michaelis added. “The final step towards building a safe, stable and secure environment is a government that takes care of its people.”

Page 10

with an American that they would be killed.” “We’ve seen some massive changes, this place was essentially a ghost town,” said 2nd Lt. Tim Souza, a platoon leader for Co. A, who hails from Cheyenne, Wyoming. “The area has definitely been getting a lot better.” After moving into their COP more than seven months ago, the Co. A troops received mortar attacks everyday and firefights were not uncommon, however for the past four months things have been relatively quiet, according to Souza who credits the change in the security situation to local reconciliation efforts. The Co. A troops have built strong relationships with both the local tribal sheiks as well as the local Iraqi security volunteers, who are risking their lives daily to protect their hometown neighborhoods, according to Souza. “They (the sheiks) know our first names and they also know who belongs in the area and who doesn’t,” said Souza. “The Iraqi security volunteers have saved a lot of Soldiers lives, keep the area secure and protect the civilian populace. On this road alone, they’ve found 18 improvised explosive devices.” “It’s really been worth it keeping that (the ISV) program working,” he added. In one recent incident, the volunteers received a tip from a local resident which led to the volunteers finding a weapons cache consisting of 175 mortars of various sizes which were then turned over to Co. A

Jan. 16, 2008

Soldiers Close Cultural Gaps with Communication
From Page 8 rebuilding a local area school. As time past, the Co. A troops have noticed a marked difference in their area of operations, according to Cpl. Allen Doggett, an infantryman with Co. A. “It was rough and tough when we first got here, but as soon as Al Qaeda moved out of the area, shops began opening and you could see children playing soccer,” said Doggett, who hails from Irving, Texas. “At first people were afraid to come out of their houses, they might tell you where something was but they didn’t want to show you because they were afraid if someone saw them troops. The Co. A troops said their experiences have been indelibly etched into their minds. “I can definitely see the bigger picture from our contributions to help the Iraqi people,” said Ramirez. “It’s been a learning experience and an eyeopening experience. You can’t really explain it to people back home, you have to be here in the moment. As one of the youngest Soldiers in the platoon, I feel like I’ve learned a lot and this place has changed everyone, whether they like to admit it or not.” “After seeing how the people here once had to live in fear, I’ve learned to appreciate many of the simple things that you have at home a lot more, like the freedom of getting to go to a ballgame,” said Doggett. “I’ve also learned to appreciate life a lot more.” Souza said his Soldiers, who are battle hardened warriors, have definitely been appreciative of their wartime experiences. “Most of my Soldiers tell me the same thing—that they’re glad to see that we’ve made some progress in the community and although they’re tired and ready to go home, they will definitely be able to say that they accomplished something positive while they were in Iraq,” said Souza. Some future projects that Co. A has been teaming with tribal sheiks and local leaders in the area to bring to local residents include renovation projects on two schools and work to repair a water treatment plant. These projects will also include the participation of ePRT and Civil Affairs teams.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

During a patrol to examine a local bridge, Roseburg, Ore. native Capt. Brian Bassett (left), commander, Company A, 2nd ‘Lancer’ Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment speaks through an interpreter to a local area tribal sheik Dec. 18 about reopening the bridge.

Page 11

Black Jack

Jan. 16, 2008

(Photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Troops from 1st Battalion, 8th Cav. Regt., 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. load their bags at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Jan. 1.

Soldiers Begin Movement Home
By Sgt. Robert Yde 2-1 Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait – For Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the first step home after their 15-month deployment to Iraq begins in Kuwait. For the past few weeks a large contingent of Black Jack Soldiers have been arriving to different bases in Kuwait in order to pave the way for the rest of the brigade’s movement back to Fort Hood, Texas. “We basically have two missions in Kuwait and that’s moving personnel and equipment home,” explained Maj. Thomas Weiss, the brigade’s redeployment cell officer-in-charge at Camp Virginia. “After a 15-month rotation in Iraq you’ve got personnel who are down in other parts of Kuwait and are helping to prepare the vehicles and wash them and get them ready to get on either ships or other conveyances back to the States. “Then we’ve also got people down here who are helping process the personnel at Virginia to go back to the States. Once we get both of those things accomplished we can go back successfully as a brigade to Fort Hood,” Weiss said. While Soldiers are cleaning the brigade’s vehicles, more Soldiers are receiving and processing the first groups of the brigade’s Soldiers to return home. “Basically they stay here for 48 to 72 hours until they’re ready to get on a plane and go home,” Weiss, who is originally from River Falls, Wis., said, “So we give them a room, make sure all the paper work is straight and make sure they get out of here on time and on the right flight.” Weiss said the process is designed to be as quick and painless as possible. “We’ve been getting a lot of support from the Air Force and a lot of support from the other agencies that are here in Kuwait,” he said. “This is a relatively mature theater –we’ve been here awhile and standard operating procedures are in place – and people know what they’re doing so it all goes pretty smoothly. “They know the Soldiers have been in Iraq; they’ve been in combat and they’ve been away from their families for a very, very long time, and they do their best to minimize the time you spend down here and the pain that you have to go through to get out.” While Weiss said the system isn’t perfect and some Soldiers may have a longer wait than others, each step is necessary to ensure that the entire brigade returns home safely. “It’s just one more step on the road to getting home,” Weiss said. “As long as we do all of this successfully, then we’ll all get home soon,” he added.

Page 12

Black Jack

Jan. 16, 2008

Families Decorate Bricks for Deployed Soldiers
By Sgt. Cheryl Cox 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs After more than six months of planning, selling and painting, the families of the “Black Jack” Brigade finally put their bricks in place. Beginning in early summer, the family readiness groups of each battalion with 2nd Brigade Combat Team came together with a plan to unite the units within the brigade. Each FRG, from company level to brigade level, sold bricks to family members that would eventually be painted and placed outside the company, battalion, or brigade headquarters buildings for the Soldiers who are currently deployed. “This is a project that I came up with at Fort Stewart during my husband’s first deployment in 2003,” said Samantha Roberts, wife of Staff Sgt. Tim Roberts, who is with Co. A, 15th Brigade Support Battalion. “At Ft. Stewart, this project started with just my husband’s unit and blossomed into a huge walkway for the Soldiers to walk across as they returned from the deployment.” With the project being designed as an internal fundraiser for each FRG, the price of each brick was different based on what they wanted done to it. “Each unit did something different,” explained Laurie Siegel, the Family Readiness Support Assistant for Blackjack Brigade. “Some are paint to look uniform, others had the family members paint them, and some family members had Samantha

(Photos by Sgt Cheryl Cox, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Pfc. Jennifer Cumbie, a rear detachment Soldier with Co. B, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, places bricks for 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment Soldiers along the walkway in front of 2nd Brigade Headquarters Dec. 27. paint the bricks for them with a specific design,” she added. The culmination of the project was when they were finally displayed in preparation for the Soldiers’ return. “The bricks will remain on display along the walkways till after block leave, when the units will either maintain the bricks and add to them with subsequent deployments or the Soldiers will be allowed to take them home,” said Siegel. As the bricks continued to be unloaded from various vehicles outside the 2nd Brigade headquarters building, Roberts watched with pride as she saw her idea unfold as a huge success. “This was a simple idea that I had to bring the brigade together and show unity among the units,” she said. “It’s not a

Family members and Soldiers placed painted bricks along the walkway in front of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team headquarters building Dec. 27. matter of what they did or how they did it, they did it together and we are proud of each and every one of them. It’s not about today. It’s not about tomorrow. “It is just one foot in front of the other because we never know what tomorrow will bring.”

Page 13


Jan. 16, 2008

(Photos by Sgt. Cheryl Cox, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Joseph, the senior noncommissioned officer, uncases the colors with commander Col. Aundre Piggee during the uncasing ceremony Dec. 13 at the 15th Sustainment Brigade headquarters on Fort Hood.

15th Sustainment Uncases Colors After 18 Months
By Sgt. Cheryl Cox 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs Nearly 18 months after casing their colors in preparation for one year in Iraq, the 15th Sustainment Brigade returned to Fort Hood and uncased their colors following a 15-month deployment. While in Iraq, the “Wagonmaster” brigade assumed command and control of four battalions that grew to eight battalions, and were dispersed between two separate locations in Multi-National Division - Baghdad’s area of operations; Victory Base Complex in Baghdad and Camp Taji to the north. With over four thousand eight hundred Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers from 14 states, Puerto Rico and Germany, the 15th Sustainment Brigade was the largest single brigade in MNDB. “It has been a fast paced 18 months since this Brigade left ‘The Great Place’, here at Fort Hood and settled in at Taji, Iraq, where we supported over bat outposts in and around the Iraqi capital. The past 15 months in combat proved to be a true baptism by fire for the Soldiers and family members of the 15th Sustainment Brigade. Through it all, they were dedicated, motivated, stimulated, exasperated and some times aggravated, but never replicated, said Staff Sgt. Tina McGruder, who hails from New Iberia, La., and provided the narration for the uncasing ceremony. “Though we have just returned, the Wagonmaster team remains fully committed to meeting America’s security challenges. Our team has and will continue to answer our nation’s call. Our Soldiers are trained and ready for whatever the mission requires,” said Piggee. “Be safe and continue to re-integrate yourself with your loved ones. “We are getting ready for the holiday; make sure you enjoy your well deserved time off and be safe. I want to see all of you at the end of this holiday season. I need all of you as part of my team.”

The 15th Sustainment Brigade colors are raised after the uncasing ceremony held Dec. 13 at Fort Hood. 95,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines in MNDBaghdad, MND- North, and MND-Central. Our deployment validated the new construct of modularization as the Brigade grew to seven battalions and almost 5,000 soldiers in Iraq,” said Col. Aundre Piggee, a native of Texarkana, Texas, and the commander of the 15th Sustainment Brigade. Beginning in January 2007, they were instrumental to the Baghdad Security Plan as well as the surge of almost 31,000 additional combat forces by transporting thousands of concrete barriers to 30 joint security stations and com-

Page 14

with their Soldiers. However, the harsh reality that some Soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice during their 15month fight against terrorism became evident at the 1st Cavalry Division Memorial Chapel Dec. 20. Friends, family and fellow troopers gathered to honor the memory the Las Vegas, Nev., native and hero Sgt. Alfred Paredez, Jr., during the division’s monthly memorial service. “True heroism is fittingly sober and is very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost,” said Lt. Col. Archie Davis quoting the great American sports figure and three-time Grand Slam winner Arthur Ashe. The deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's rear detachment later asked the question, “Where do we get such great patriots like this young man,” and genuinely answered, “(From) families that instill that patriotism and moral courage; families that build strong foundations and values, families who prepare their sons and daughters for life of service, of responsibility and devotion to duty.” And devotion to duty was something the noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, did not lack. Shatto said that Paredez took his job of training Soldiers very seriously. He remembered on one occasion he discovered Paredez in the back of his Bradley giving a detailed block of instructions on how to operate the various components associated with the infantry fighting vehicle to his attentive wide-eyed troopers. “I could easily tell that he took great pride in the knowledge and experience he was able to instill in every Soldier he encountered,” Shatto said.

Jan. 16, 2008

“You Will Always Be an American Hero”
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs “A true American hero has fallen,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Shatto. With the deployment coming to an end some 1st Cavalry Division families are celebrating joyous reunions “It takes a lot to earn the respect of your Soldiers.” He added that molding others is a great responsibility, but Paredez handled the responsibility of sergeant, as well as son, friend, husband and father gracefully. “You are truly admired for your dedication, selfless service and tremendous contributions to family, our Army and to our great nation. You volunteered to serve your country; you trained your Soldiers, earning their unconditional respect,” Shatto said. “You raised our family through the worst and best times. You stood up and fought for those who could not fight for themselves… and you will always be an American hero.” Davis quoted former President John F. Kennedy, “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. “My fellow citizens of the world ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man,” Davis said. The Riviera Beach, Fla., native concluded even fortyseven years later, America’s sons and daughters continue to live up to this challenge by doing their part and Paredez was one of those people.

(Photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Soldiers out of Fort Hood, Texas, pay tribute to the memory of Sgt. Alfred Paredez of Las Vegas, Nev., during a memorial ceremony held at the 1st Cavalry Division Memorial Chapel Dec. 20.

Page 15


Jan. 16, 2008

Patriots, Packers to Host Conference Championships
This is the “homecoming” issue for the “Crossed Sabers” and for returning First Team Iraqi vets who favor the unbeaten New England Patriots or the surprising Packers from Green Bay (like me), their performances Saturday made the homecoming even sweeter. Tom Brady completed 26 of 28 passes, setting a playoff record for accuracy, while his Patriots dominated the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, 31-20. In Green Bay, Lambeau Field was not only the “Frozen Tundra,” it was the home for the Frosty the Snowman, too, as Brett Favre threw three touchdowns and a snowball or two to whip the Seattle Seahawks, 42-20. While fans from New England and the frozen north had their hearts warmed with a win, there are probably more than a few unhappy Cowboy fans here in Central Texas who saw their beloved Cowboys get bounced from the playoffs Sunday for a second straight year, this time by the surging New York Giants and their quarterback, Eli Manning, 21-17. Eli’s big brother, Peyton, didn’t fare as well. Earlier in the day the reigning National Football League champion Colts fell to the San Diego Chargers in Indianapolis, 28-24. season. This isn’t the same Giants team from early in the season, but the Packers have also improved in all facets of their game since then, too. If the Packers manage to win again at home, Cowboy fans will bemoan the fact that Green Bay has NEVER won a game at Dallas. They will “woulda, coulda, shoulda” themselves throughout the rest of the post-season and beyond. The bottom line, here, is this: the ‘Boys needed to get beyond the Giants to get to the Packers, and then get to the Super Bowl. Was Dallas guilty of looking ahead? Only Jessica Simpson knows for sure.

Trigger Pull
Master Sgt. Dave Larsen
their youth movement to Vince Young) goes three for three for 48 yards on a comefrom-behind fourth quarter scoring drive, and even dives in for the winning touchdown on a quarterback keeper. On paper, the Chargers had no chance. In reality, they won the game with grit and guts. The performance brought tears to San Diego head coach Norv Turner’s eyes during the post-game interview session. This is why they play the game!

Destiny’s Children (Tom & Brett)
Tom Brady and the Patriots are now 17-0 this season. Unless the Chargers can unleash more magic, their flight to the Super Bowl will finish in Foxboro, Mass., Sunday. Brett Favre hoped for a snowy game this weekend and got it. Ryan Grant fumbled twice in the opening minutes of the Seattle game, giving a 14-0 lead to the Seahawks. Yet, he fought back to run the ball 27 times for 201 yards. It seems to me that both the Pack and the Pats are destined to win their conferences and butt heads in the Super Bowl. (I wrote Butthead, heh-heh!) I don’t think this will be Favre’s final season, but I do believe his final game (this season and next) will be the Super Bowl. In the big game, my heart hopes Favre wins it all but my head says he’ll lose. This year. He’s coming back for more, unless he goes out with a win. But honestly, can ANYONE get past the Patriots? Still, not to be caught looking ahead, myself, a win Sunday in the NFC Championship Game will be just another belated Christmas present for this Packer fan. Go Packers!

Billy Volek?
Even a Packer fan like me has to hand it to the Chargers for the gutsy play by the Bolts’ backups. Ask anyone before this game what the Chargers’ chances would be if all-pro tight end Antonio Gates is hobbled, starting quarterback Philip Rivers is out with a knee injury and so is all-world running back Ladainian Tomlinson. Oh yeah, and they are playing on the road in a dome. No chance, right? Wrong! Instead backup quarterback Billy Volek (who used to back up Steve McNair, but left Tennessee when the Titans made

Not Eli-minated!
Eli Manning threw two touchdowns to Amani Toomer and played error-free football to lead the surprising Giants to a road victory over a team who had previously manhandled them, twice, during the regular season. Green Bay fans owe the Giants a big “THANK YOU,” since they now get another home game next weekend. The Giants are on a roll, but their win in Dallas takes them to Green Bay Sunday, against a team that dominated them in the Meadowlands in the second week of the