2015 Devil Update
As we begin 2015, we reflect on the many accomplishments of the Brigade over the past year and prepare for an incredibly busy year ahead.
2014 began with a combat training center rotation to Fort Polk,Louisiana to prepare Task Force Red and White Devil for their Afghanistan deployment in late February. The weather at JRTC was exceptionally cool, around 22 degrees Fahrenheit, as more than 1100 Paratroopers along with heavy drop platforms descended onto Geronimo DZ. The weather remained below normal throughout the rotation as we trained over the 11 day exercise and it even snowed on us during our deliberate attack of an urban objective. Needless to say, we capitalized on the adverse weather and carried the day against the determined opposing forces. Concurrent with our JRTC rotation, we hosted a company of Paratroopers from the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade who conducted a month of training with 2-501st PIR.
TF Red and White Devil deployed to Afghanistan in late February for nine months to serve as the Theater Response Force for the Iraqi Joint Command operating in all five regional commands within Afghanistan. Our Paratroopers conducted countless missions, providing security and space for the downsizing of operating bases and retrograde of manpower and materiel from Afghanistan. As you might expect, both Task Forces performed magnificently and truly enabled the Regional Commanders to maintain pressure against the enemy and protect the lives of other deployed service members. Sadly, we lost three incredible Paratroopers during the deployment, CPT Ed Chaffin, SFC Sam Hairston, and SPC Brian Arsenault. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families and we will never forget their service and sacrifice on behalf of our Nation.
At Fort Bragg, more than 1100 Paratroopers from the BCT headquarters along with our Cavalry Squadron, Engineer Battalion and other enablers remained on 96-hour recall through October prepared to reinforce TF Red and White Devil in Afghanistan. The Gun Devils (3-319th AFAR) and Thunderbolts (3-73 CAV) took on the challenge of the outload support battalion mission (DRF-9 of old)setting new standard for readiness and enabling both 3BCT and 2BCT to focus on their mission as the GRF (DRB-1 of old). 2-501st PIR executed an off post deployment with the Virginia Army National Guard at Fort Pickett, VA in June and then trained with 2BCT from July through October culminating with a 12-day Decisive Action (Joint Forcible Entry and Force of Force operations) in September, fully certifying them as a combat ready Parachute Infantry Battalion .
The BCT provided essential support to the 82nd and Fort Bragg from June through October but still managed to deploy the Thunderbolts to Fort Pickett, VA in November to execute gunnery while conducting critical training for our Artillery, Engineer, Signal, and Military Intelligence assets. We also worked to improve relationships with a number of assigned international partners including the Dutch, Germans, Polish, and Mexican Airborne Forces. As part of the Division’s campaign plan to improve interoperability with crisis response forces of other nations, we have set a path to work closely with the airborne forces of these countries to improve our collective ability to respond to developing crises around the world.
In September, we deployed a Company from 2-501st along with other members of the BCT to participate in the 70th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. Our Paratroopers supported multiple ceremonies in support of our Dutch allies to honor the sacrifices of the 82nd Airborne Division and other service members during this critical operation of World War II. Capping off the trip, the company moved to Norway and executed a company level Airborne Assault as part of a NATO Response Force Training exercise further building on our relationships with the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade.
Following the redeployment of TF Red and White Devil in November, the Brigade was preparing to execute two weeks of well deserved leave over the holidays when 3BCT was notified of a short notice (within 90 days) deployment to Iraq creating an opportunity for our BCT to execute a JRTC rotation in April of 2015. Returning from leave in early January, we have set out to chart a training path for the coming year that will keep us incredibly busy but will be incredibly rewarding.
We are preparing for two scheduled Joint Readiness Training Center Rotations to Fort Polk, Louisiana in April and late October along with a home station Brigade Field Training Exercise in July and a multi-national Joint Forcible Entry Exercise to be held at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfehls, Germany in September. Each Parachute Infantry Battalion will hone their airborne skills while conducting company level combined arms live fire exercise at Fort Bragg and culminating with a battalion level combined arms live fire exercise as part of our CTC rotations in April and October.
Our focus this year will be to improve relationships and interoperability with our Dutch, German, Polish, and Mexican Airborne counterparts while rebuilding the individual, family, and unit readiness of our incredible BCT and assume our role as the Army Component of the Nation’s Global Response Force on or about 1 December 2015.
COL Trevor Bredenkamp
CSM Scott Brzak