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Old 02-25-2018, 07:39 AM
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Arrow Fort Drum's commander gives pep talk to soldiers as they launch Iraq deployment

Fort Drum's commander gives pep talk to soldiers as they launch Iraq deployment
By GORDON BLOCK | The Watertown Daily Times (Tribune News Service) | Pub: 2-24-18

Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt leads members of Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division in a run before casing the colors, signifying the unit is ready for their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq.

FORT DRUM — Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt pulled his soldiers together for one last pep talk before he and the division headquarters deployed to Iraq. His message: America will need you, now and into the future.

“They’ve called once again, and we’re ready,” he said. “They’ll call tomorrow, and I know you’ll be ready.”

The division held a casing ceremony Friday morning to formally launch the headquarters’ new mission. About 500 soldiers will soon head to Iraq to help security forces build upon victories against ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.

“It’s arrogant to say we’re going to help them; they’ve been in a tough fight,” Gen. Piatt said, after the ceremony. “That’s a tough professional force, and nothing builds experience like combat. ISIS was really at the gates of Baghdad, and it was the Iraqi people and Iraqi security forces that took it back and said ‘It’s unacceptable that we’ll have ISIS take over our country.’”

The next challenge, he said, was working with their Iraqi counterparts to create long-term sustainability for their security personnel.

“Now they want to be trained and build professional security forces, not just an Army, but border guards, federal police, police forces, so they can secure the nation to allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their nation and regain the sovereignty they so much deserve,” Gen. Piatt said.

The post commander has said at multiple points in the last month that the mission comes at a critical time for Iraq, which is rebuilding from the substantial damage caused by the insurgent group and preparing to hold parliamentary elections in May. Gen. Piatt said the development of Iraq’s stability could have major effects throughout the region.

“A secure Iraq allows for a stable region,” he said. “The Iraqi people, the Iraqi government have stated they want to be a free, democratically elected government and a partner to the West within the Middle East.”

The division headquarters will replace the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division of Fort Bliss, Texas. Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based in Fort Polk, La., have been in Iraq since last fall.

Friday’s ceremony was shorter and less formal than other deployment ceremonies in recent years, highlighted by a small division run prior to the general’s remarks at Memorial Park.

The order of the division run was determined by a short physical challenge race around the division headquarters and was won by Spc. Maksym Ivashko, an Apache helicopter repairman for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade who was born and raised in Ukraine.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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