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Spartans fulfill their part of 'surge'
troops walk
United Service Organizations and Red Cross volunteers cheer and present flags to soldiers as they make their way toward their plane at Hunter. - photo by Photo by 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
They wore flak vests, weapons slung across their backs, bags in their hands and IDs around their necks. But the greatest weights they bore were the hopes of a president, the future of one nation, and the concerns and prayers of another.
Between May 7 and 12, soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, deployed from Fort Stewart through Hunter Army Airfield to Operation Iraqi Freedom 2007-2009 as part of President George Bush’s surge strategy.
With the prayers of their families, friends and nation behind them, the “Spartans” went forward to secure a better future for Iraq. While there, the brigade will work to this end by trying to quell violence around Baghdad to create a safe and secure environment, said Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane, 2nd BCT command sergeant major.
“Our mission will encompass a mix of civil affairs, training Iraqi forces and going after individuals causing problems,” he said.
While taking the fight to these insurgents, Berhane said the brigade would work in conjunction with Iraqi security forces. Such teamwork will help develop and train the ISF, allowing them to take control over their country’s security, he added.
In order to ensure the ISF gets the best training, the brigade took plenty of time before deploying to adequately train themselves.
“We conducted multiple small arms gunnery and big bullet gunnery ranges, battalion maneuver exercises, a home station mission readiness exercise and Spartan focus, a 1-month exercise tailored to the tasks we’d do in country,” Maj. David Oeschger, brigade executive officer, said.
Individual soldier training was also conducted at company, platoon, squad and team level, Oeschger said.
Such intense training has increased the morale of the 2nd BCT, reducing their fears while building their confidence.
“I feel my command has prepared me,” Pfc. Jarod Cook, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., said. “I’m looking forward to new experiences.”
One such new experience for Cook, a fire support specialist, will be working personal security for the brigade command. He said the training for this, which included reacting to contact, reacting to improvised explosive devices, and determining a route’s status by reading a map, have made him look forward to going over and doing his job.
Veterans who already deployed with the 2nd BCT also share this feeling.
“I expect things to go smooth,” Sgt. 1st Class David A. Brissett, brigade medical operation non-commissioned officer in charge, said. “There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in this brigade (that we) used to train soldiers.”
Such knowledge will hopefully allow the brigade to meet Berhane’s desire that the brigade leaves knowing that they made a difference.
Likewise, Berhane desires that individual soldiers also pull out personal satisfaction. He added that he hopes all gain combat experience and knowledge for future deployments.
But out of all the things to carry out of the country, each other is the priority.
“I want to bring everyone back home safely,” Berhane said. “That’s the goal.”

Stabinsky is a writer for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office
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