FORT STEWART – A deployment of thousands of 3rd Infantry Division troops is underway, its commander said Monday.
Maj. Gen. Christopher Norrie, who took command of the storied unit last month, said Monday the preparations for more than 4,000 troops to go to Europe have been “incredible.”
“One thing I’ve learned is that the 3rd Infantry Division does not have to deploy – we get to deploy,” he said. “That’s a really important distinction. We are excited about deploying to Europe. These units have trained hard. They are ready to further strengthen the NATO alliance, to further deter aggression and to train in Europe with host nation partners and allies.
“They have worked hard. They are trained and they are ready and well-led. We are excited to get over there.”
The division, which sent the 1st Armored Combat Brigade Team to Europe on short notice last year, was given orders earlier this year to get the 2nd Armored Combat Brigade Combat Team, the 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, and the division headquarters ready to go to Europe this summer. The 2nd Brigade Armored Combat Team, which Maj. Gen. Norrie pointed out is the most advanced and modern brigade in the Army, will replace the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, while the Sustainment Brigade and division headquarters will follow the 4th Infantry Division’s Sustainment Brigade and headquarters.
“They have been absolutely incredible,” Maj. Gen. Norrie said of his first few weeks as division commander. “The proudest thing that I can possibly say is that I am a dog-faced soldier and I serve with such an incredible team.”
The new 3rd ID commander also said the deployment speaks to the service of the soldiers and of being something bigger than themselves. The Army, for the second straight year, likely will not make its goals in recruiting.
The Army set a goal of 65,000 new recruits for fiscal year 2023 and anticipates falling short of that. But the branch still has plenty to offer potential soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Alonso noted.
“I’ve always wanted to do something greater than myself,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alonso, whose parents hailed from Mexico and wouldn’t let her two brothers join. “I was just very determined and wanted to be a trailblazer.”
There are dozens of career choices available in the Army, and Alonso said she points those out to potential soldiers. The Army also now allows soldiers to sign up for two years to see if their chosen field is a fit for them.
“As recruiters, we consider ourselves life coaches and career counselors more than anything,” she said, “because we sit down with people - we see them from all walks of life, we saw all kinds of demographics, all kinds of backgrounds – and more than anything we want to help them be successful. When we’re able to share our story, that sometimes is what motivates them. More than anything, we tailor their career path and choices to make them successful.”
Alonso also has found herself in positions of leadership she did not envision when she signed up in 2010.
“I’ve done a number of things I thought would not be possible,” she said. “It was all about the leaders I served with. They saw potential in me and put me in positions that I would have never known I would be great at.”
“She’s done every hard thing you can think of in our Army,” Maj. Gen. Norrie said.
Maj. Gen. Norrie said he finds that the notion of being a part of something larger and being a part of something important still has an impact.
“That message of serving something that is bigger than self continues to resonate,” he said.
Meanwhile, the division’s units heading to Europe are in the process of moving out. Maj. Gen. Norrie said getting a rare chance to train with NATO allies will be beneficial for the 3rd ID’s soldiers.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for our team, and we are all really excited about it,” he said.
See the July 20 edition of the Courier for more.