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    Soldiers of 76th IBCT headquarters return from Afghanistan

    76th Infantry Brigade soldiers return from Afghanistan

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class David Bruce | Chief Warrant Officer Dan Brown, of Bunker Hill, Ind., with the 76th Infantry Brigade...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. David Bruce 

    Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

    EDINBURGH, Ind. - Soldiers of the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Indiana Army National Guard, returned from a 9-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and underwent the demobilization process at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, the same location where they trained for the mission.

    “It was a very busy deployment with a complex mission set,” said Col. Jerry Hadley, of Noblesville, Ind., commander of the 76th IBCT. “The brigade headquarters did really well. We had a good train up here at Atterbury that was focused on the mission and very streamlined. The trip to Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and the counter insurgency training at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., combined with the pieces here prepared us well for the mission.”

    Hadley said the deployment was a pretty standard mission of what a brigade headquarters would do. The brigade headquarters was deployed to Oruzgan province in the northern part of Regional Command South where they operated as a command element and oversaw coalition operations in a combat environment, he said.

    “We were commanding a multinational brigade of soldiers from Australia, Singapore and Slovakia. We also had U.S. forces as well as Navy, Air Force and Special Forces and Australian special forces that fell under our battlespace. We were also partnered with an Afghan brigade of about 3,500 that was collocated with us,” he said.

    This was Hadley’s third deployment with the brigade. He had an earlier deployment to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Hadley’s next assignment will be as the operations and training officer for the Indiana National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters.

    “It was a good experience it was definitely the toughest deployment I think I‘ve had”, he said. “Dealing with coalition troops makes everything more complicated, but also more rewarding working with other nations. Some things that are simple when working with your organic brigade, but become more daunting when you’re working across different ways of operating. The language barriers weren’t really a problem, most could speak English. You have to be willing to check your ego at the door and make things happen.”

    Like the rest of his soldiers, Hadley is also happy that this mission is over.

    “I’m ready to go home,” he said. “For some of the soldiers, this has been their second, third or fourth deployment. This is a very deployed unit and there are some Soldiers that have deployed a lot in it, and I think they are ready to go home and get back with their families.”

    Sgt. Christopher Turner, of Muncie, Ind., had a previous deployment to Iraq, but said this deployment was significantly different than the first.

    “The first time I was infantry in Iraq,” he said. “This time I was network operations in the signal shop. We got to work with the Australians; they are more similar than you think. They have similar rank structures and customs. We made good friends.”

    For Turner the hardest part of deployment was being away from his family.

    “This was my first deployment since having kids,” said Turner. “I was worried that my daughter wouldn’t remember me, but she ran up to me at the welcome home ceremony, so I was relieved that she didn’t forget. My son was born in June, while I was gone, so that was the first time I really go to see him.”

    Turner said that he used email and Skype to communicate with his family while deployed.

    With the deployment over, Turner plans to return to his civilian life as a manager at Walmart and as a traditional citizen-soldier.

    “I’m really excited about being home. We have some vacations and little trips planned. Then I’ll be returning to work in February.”

    Staff Sgt. Dustin Niehaus, of Indianapolis, said the deployment, for him, was a great experience.

    “I was one of many for whom this was a first deployment, so I really enjoyed my time there,” said Niehaus, a signal intelligence analyst.

    Niehaus said he worked with the Australian signal intelligence soldiers in tracking of insurgents using electronic warfare.

    “I liked being able to utilize the skills I have learned outside of training. I found out that I was pretty good at it. This deployment wasn’t what I expected. I thought that I would just be sitting in fornt of a computer on base, but I was able to go outside the wire and do intelligence work.”

    Niehaus says he would like to pass on what he learned while on deployment to others.

    “I’m currently a criminal analyst at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, but after this, I hope to get on with National Guard Bureau for a year tour at the National Security Agency or as a signal intelligence contractor.”

    The soldiers of the 76th BCT will finish their demobilization at Camp Atterbury before going on terminal leave and then resuming their civilian lives after this brief interruption to serve their country.



    Date Taken: 11.29.2012
    Date Posted: 11.30.2012 18:15
    Story ID: 98583
    Location: CAMP ATTERBURY, IN, US 

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