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116th Cavalry Brigade begins mission in Iraq

by April Davis
| December 8, 2010 8:00 PM

BAGHDAD - The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team has started serving its 10-month mission in Iraq.

The unit has 2,700 Army National Guard soldiers from Idaho, Oregon and Montana, including about 170 attached to the Post Falls Armory.

Two transfer of authority ceremonies were held in Baghdad on Friday to mark the start of the mission in various Iraq locations.

The headquarters element of the 116th, now known as "Task Force Snake", assumed garrison command over Victory Base Complex, a large U.S. military installation.

Col. Guy Thomas, brigade commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Woodall, brigade command sergeant major, uncased the 116th CBCT colors signifying the beginning of the brigade's mission. The outgoing unit, the 199th Brigade Support Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Louisiana Army National Guard, cased their flag symbolizing the transfer of authority to the 116th and the end of their tour in Iraq.

"We have a very challenging mission ahead of us and the bar has been set high," Thomas said, as he addressed his soldiers during the ceremony. "I know you will get the job done with enthusiasm, determination and I have no doubt you are prepared for what challenges lay ahead."

The 116th Garrison Command will be working much like a city or state government office, responsible for maintaining infrastructure and support services to thousands of U.S. military and civilians occupying VBC. Operating as a garrison command includes departments for public works, logistics, human resources, operations and camp mayors.

The departments and mayor cells work cooperatively to ensure VBC residents have adequate housing, electricity, water and other essential life-support resources.

The 2nd Squadron, 116th Armored Reconnaissance, 116th CBCT, now known as "Task Force Rattler," assumed responsibility for force protection and base defense of VBC, relieving Louisiana's 256th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the 256th IBCT, in a separate ceremony.

The Caldwell, Idaho-based squadron will be responsible for the safety and security of thousands of VBC occupants.

"We are very proud to be here and to be selected for this challenging and important mission," said Lt. Col. Todd Edgar, commander of 2nd Sqdn., 116th Armd. Recon., during the ceremony. "The chance to give and sacrifice for the protection of others is an honor."

Other elements of the 116th CBCT throughout Iraq will continue to assume command of their new missions this week as they complete the relief-in-place training process with units they are replacing.

The soldiers trained for two months at Camp Shelby, Miss., before arriving in Kuwait and finally Iraq.

Some of the soldiers were also deployed to Iraq in 2005.

The 116th is among about 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn that started Sept. 1. Combat-related missions formerly performed by coalition forces are now undertaken by the Iraqi military.