WASHINGTON — The 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s recent deployment to Iraq, Syria and Kuwait successfully supported efforts in defeating ISIS, one of its squadron commanders told reporters June 19.
While deployed, the regiment advised, assisted and enabled allied task forces with multiple coalition forces.
“Our role was to provide firebases and tactical assembly areas that conducted missions in support of the fight against ISIS,” Lt. Col. Kent Park, the regiment’s 3rd Squadron commander, said during an Army Current Operations Engagement Tour at the Pentagon.
The regiment, based out of Fort Hood, is a Stryker brigade made up of seven squadrons. It deployed from May 2018 to February in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
The mission, which was primarily a supportive role, was to work by, with and through Iraqi Security Forces, or ISF, in order to defeat ISIS and set lasting stability in Iraq and Syria.
Park’s unit – Task Force Thunder – partnered with the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Border Police in Al Anbar Province along the Syrian border.
The regiment assumed responsibility during a time of significant transition, Park said, as the Iraqi government declared victory in its fight against ISIS.
“The Iraqi Army was happy to lead the warfighting efforts because they knew the regiment was supporting them and because they made great gains as a force,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Adam Nash, who served as Park’s senior enlisted advisor.
Nash noticed how well the Iraqi forces supported themselves in combat. For example, they moved mechanized vehicles more than 180 miles in three days without getting advised to do so, he said.
Park and Nash agreed the Iraqis have made huge gains in becoming a skilled military force.
They seemed more willing to take the fight to the enemy, Park said, adding they were a battle-hardened force in their fight against ISIS.
Despite fewer American combat engagements, regiment Soldiers still earned about 60 Combat Infantry Badges and Combat Action Badges. CIBs were earned by infantrymen while on patrol and CABs were mainly awarded to artillerymen.
Key lessons learned
Three lines of effort enabled the regiment’s success in fighting the enemy, Park said.
First, it embedded the tactical operations center within the joint operations center, which enabled Soldiers to partner with ISF senior leaders and focus intelligence collection, synchronize targeting, and streamline priorities together.
Second, the regiment leveraged joint fires with allied partners through effective use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. The shared use of their strengths helped fill the gap of each other’s capabilities, Park said, and consistently resulted in increased access and influence across the area of operations.
Third, the regiment deliberately created expeditionary combat power packages and placed them in key locations, Park said.
The power packages included a security force to support Iraqi forces. These packages provided the commander an ability to rapidly support developing requirements and extended coalition influence to areas previously out of reach, he said.
In future deployments, the regiment plans to apply lessons learned from its nine-month tour to appropriately shape its training cycle, Park said. Specifically, the regiment will focus its efforts on developing proficiency in combined arms maneuvers in a decisive action environment.
“Our troops, allies and partners exceeded all of our expectations,” Park said, “and I can’t wait to see what amazing things they do in the future.”