News: 'Raider' brigade cases colors, prepares to deploy
Story by Spc. Reese Von Rogatsz
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division cased its colors in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom at a ceremony held on Watkins Field, Oct. 18.
The ‘Raider’ brigade last cased its colors in August of 2010 upon completion of a tactical road march from Baghdad to Kuwait. After seven years of war, the brigade was the last designated combat unit to depart Iraq.
During “The Last Patrol”, the soldiers of 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. drove their vehicles 360 miles over five days, similar to the way units first entered Iraq seven years prior, in a visual demonstration that U.S. combat operations in Iraq were complete.
“Our coming mission is one that the men and women standing before you are absolutely ready to execute,” said Col. Michael Getchell, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. commander, addressing the soldiers, families and distinguished visitors gathered at the ceremony.
The mission, according to Getchell, is to relieve a sister Stryker brigade [3rd SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., the ‘Arrowhead’ brigade] and conduct security force assistance operations with Afghan police and Army units so that they can fully take the lead in the security of their citizens and national interests.
“In the two years that have elapsed since the [brigade] last stood on this field to finish its last deployment,” said Getchell, “we have steadfastly readied ourselves for this next rendezvous.”
The rigorous training cycle included training exercises in cooperation with Australian, Japanese, and Singapore militaries, support to other units in various operations, and two field-training exercises at Yakima Training Center, Wash., capped by the brigade’s mission rehearsal exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.
“We are honored to be called on for this opportunity to continue to write this current chapter in our nation’s storied history and to positively shape Afghanistan’s promising future,” Getchell said.
The day began with a brigade run of more than 3,200 ‘Raiders’ running 4.2 miles.
Caroline Webster, the spouse of Col. Charles Webster, commander of 3rd SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., passed the torch maintained by the ‘Arrowhead’ brigade through their deployment as the ‘Arrowhead’ family logged miles under the “Walk to Afghanistan and Back” program, to Getchell.
“Walk to Afghanistan and Back” is a program where Army spouses and family members of deployed soldiers log their miles completed in the course of fitness activity and submit them to their unit to be totaled. The ‘Raiders’ cumulative run distance of 13,500 miles represents the distance from JBLM to Regional Command – South in Afghanistan, where the brigade will be assigned once it takes over responsibility from 3rd SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div.
“This symbolic gesture has great significance,” said Getchell, “and we look forward to continuing to move this flame to the objective until we can pass it on next summer.”