Written by Sgt. William White
Headquarters, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
Fort Campbell, KY – The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) headquarters cased its colors February 25th before a nine-month deployment to Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.
Soldiers, family members and community leaders attended the ceremony to bid farewell to the Screaming Eagles as they prepare to train and advise the Iraqi army in its mission to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“Today we case our colors as we deploy in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and replace the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters as the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command in Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).As the CJFLCC, the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters will be responsible for the command and control of approximately 4,000 coalition troops from 18 different nations, Volesky said.
“In this capacity, we’ll train, advise, assist and provide critical capabilities to the Iraqi security forces to support them in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq,” Volesky said. “Our partners in the region need our help in stamping out ISIL. Our nation’s security and that of our allies depends on it.”
Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, XVIII Airborne Corps commanding general, attended the ceremony and spoke to 101st Airborne Division Soldiers directly. “These Screaming Eagles have trained for this mission. They’ve built on experience from previous deployments and this task is going to require them to draw on all of their skills and all of their talents.”
The mission, according to Townsend, will be more complex than those of past deployments.
“Screaming Eagles, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, the mission you’ve been given is extremely challenging and I think probably one of the most difficult that our Army has faced since 2001,” Townsend said. “The dynamics at play in Iraq and Syria are incredibly complex and ever-changing.”
Townsend said the Screaming Eagles can also expect new challenges to arise during their mission, and reminded them to stay flexible. “I’m confident in your skills as warriors, as trainers, as advisers, and I’m confident in the leaders of this division. I know these Screaming Eagles will accomplish their mission.”
The day not only marked the beginning of a new mission, but was significant to the storied history of the 101st Airborne Division.
“The country of Iraq is no stranger to the Screaming Eagles and what better day to mark the beginning of our next deployment than to do it on the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm?” Volesky said. “Today we once again build upon the phenomenal reputation of those great Soldiers that went before us. As we have since 1942, Screaming Eagle Soldiers have always answered our nation’s call to duty with pride and tenacity. This tough mission is our next rendezvous with destiny and we are ready for it.”