There’s a new U.S. Army team conducting base support and force protection operations at Iraqi bases, but the Stryker Brigade Combat Team is leaving its Strykers behind.
Task Force Raider “will conduct base operating support and force protection operations at ISF bases where the Coalition is co-located, and assist in the defeat Daesh mission,” Army Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, told Military Times. Those bases include Erbil Air Base, Al-Asad Air Base and the JOC-I (Union III), Marotto said.
The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Colorado took over on Sept. 21, following a transfer of authority ceremony during which the Louisiana Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team handed over the reins, according to a statement from the outgoing brigade.
The 1st Brigade trained with the 256th Brigade for several weeks before assuming operational responsibility for the area in support of CJTF-OIR. Though the 1st Brigade is a combat team, it is continuing the previous brigade’s non-combat mission, an ongoing support operation at the invitation of the Iraqi government, the statement reads. U.S. military presence in Iraq continues under a non-combat directive following President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s July announcement aiming to move American involvement in Iraq to a strictly advisory and training role by the end of this year. With that largely symbolic shift in mind, the brigade deployed to Iraq without their Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles.
In addition to base-operating support and protection operations, the brigade will provide continued assistance in the mission to eliminate Islamic State forces in the area. They’ll also continue support to Peshmerga and Syrian Democratic Forces, as their predecessors did.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, CJTF-OIR’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. John Brennan spoke highly of the 256th Brigade, nicknamed Tiger Brigade. The brigade worked with the Russian military on air and ground de-confliction, and supported the operation’s Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF), moving thousands of tons of equipment to partner forces.
“You can’t go anywhere to any out station without seeing a Task Force Tiger Soldier, and that speaks volumes to the effect they have against Daesh,” said Brennan. Limited personnel attended the ceremony in order to conform to COVID-19 guidelines.
The new unit’s colors were uncased by Col. Andrew Steadman, commander, 1st SBCT, 4th ID, and Command Sgt. Maj. Hau Sun, 1st SBCT, 4th ID senior enlisted advisor.
“Task Force Tiger, we feel ready because of how you’ve invested in us so we truly appreciate that,” said Steadman.