The completion of the deployment of the Third Infantry Division to Operation Iraqi Liberation began in earnest this week with the departure two flights of about 600 soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team.
The Vanguard Brigade is the last of the 3rd ID’s units to deploy, having stuck to its original schedule, most of other the Marne Division units having been sent to Iraq on an accelerated schedule in President Bush’s surge of troops to Iraq.
The division’s 1st BCT went to Iraq in January according to the Army Forces Generation schedule.
The surge has taken other dog-faced soldier units, including division headquarters to Iraq on advanced timelines.
The soldiers departing Wednesday were from the 4-64 Armor Battalion, known as the Tuskers, and the 6-8 Cavalry Squadron, nicknamed the Mustangs.
The brigade will fall in on equipment previously shipped to Kuwait, perform some training and preparation and move to Iraq a couple of weeks after the unit’s deployment is complete. Soldiers will continue to depart through October.
The brigade is replacing a unit of the 22th Infantry Division operating south of Baghdad. Other units included in the 4th BCT include the 3-7 Infantry, the 4-3 Battalion Troops Brigade and the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion.
The 4th Brigade’s departure marks the second time since 2005 that all units from Fort Stewart — and the entire 3rd ID — were simultaneously deployed.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team from Stewart is due to return in April 2008, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team is set to redeploy in August 2008.