Rosehill Academy

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Flagship unit makes first deployment in 40 years

509th Soldiers Training to Fight for Freedom
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, stand in the desert of Kuwait as they prepare for a day of training. The unit is attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. 1/509th Soldiers will train with 2nd BCT before moving into Iraq. A and B Companies deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in June. Geronimo Soldiers have, since 1993, served as the Joint Readiness Training Center’s opposing force for rotations. Although the unit’s primary mission has been training the remainder of the force, leaders say Soldiers have always been combat ready.

2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
Published 2 July 2004 in The Guardian, Fort Polk, Louisiana

Members of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, were not recognizable Soldiers. Their mission was to grow long hair and beards to disguise themselves as the opposing force at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. But like every Soldier, that mission can change at the drop of a hat.

After receiving the call to fight the war on terrorism, they were spun round the barber’s chair and transformed from combat trainers to training themselves for combat in Iraq.

The 1/509th is attached to the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team to combat the Global War on Terrorism. Capt. Jerord Wilson, A Company commander, said this is the first deployment the 509th has seen since World War II.

“We do a different type of training than what conventional forces do,” Wilson said. “Even though we train units to go into combat, we also train and are always mission ready.”

While at Fort Polk, Soldiers from the 509th participate in each of the approximate two week rotations at the JRTC as the opposition force for rotational training units.

“The 1st of the 509th represents the enemy force a unit is going to face when they go into a combat theater,” Wilson said. “When a unit comes into JRTC, they ask for certain training perimeters or objectives they would like to meet. Based on those training objectives we present them with an enemy.”

Wilson said some of the training the 509th receives is learning from the mistakes made by units they are opposing during JRTC rotations.

“We get to see lots of units during the rotations we have each year,” Wilson said. “During the rotations there is constant teaching, coaching and mentoring that is given by the observer-controllers to the units that are training as well as the opposition force to make sure units learn as they go.”

Part of the training the 509th participates in is located at the military operations in urban terrain site at Fort Polk. The MOUT site is a replicated village for Soldiers to train and familiarize themselves in combat environments in an urban environment.

“The MOUT site is like going into the jungle,” Wilson said. “You don’t know where the enemy is. He could be around any corner and you have to prepare for it. We live and breathe in the urban sprawl and are well trained in that environment.”

The 509th also offers something other conventional units are unable to offer –– airborne capabilities, Wilson said.

“Ninety-five percent of the unit is airborne trained,” Wilson said. “The 509th was the first airborne unit. Many Soldiers don’t know that the airborne patch was designed by Lt. Gen. William Yarborough, an original member of the 1st of the 509th.”
The infantry airborne regiment brandishing the 509th Geronimo patch on their left breast pocket has always been ready for the call to deploy, said Wilson.

“We have seen the transition of what happened after 9-11 and expected that sooner or later we would be called on,” Wilson said. “We have always been prepared for this day. We have come a long way in a short period of time in preparing ourselves for this fight.”


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