Then and Now: CENTCOM
President Barack Obama put it best: When there’s a problem in the world, “the world calls us.”
And throughout American history, service members are among the first to heed that call.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan established U.S. Central Command to address growing unrest in the central area of the world.
Since then, CENTCOM has been a leader in emerging crises, including Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and the liberation of Kuwait. Additionally, in the 1990s it provided humanitarian assistance to the region through Operation Provide Comfort and Operation Provide Relief.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, CENTCOM launched Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to expel the Taliban government in Afghanistan and combat terrorism around the world.
Thirteen years later, CENTCOM continues to work with U.S. partner-nations in this fight.
More than 800 air strikes by fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft have targeted terrorist operations from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq and Syria. ISIL units, fighting positions artillery weapons and other key components have all been destroyed in recent weeks.
The strikes are part of Operation Inherent Resolve, which aims to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project power and conduct operations.
“ISIL continues to lose capability on a daily basis because of the pressure the coalition has put on them,” said Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command.
On November 7, President Obama authorized Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to deploy up to 1,500 additional troops who will serve in non-combat roles by joining the existing advise-and-assist mission and initiating a comprehensive training effort for Iraq and Kurdish forces.
Then and Now: 101st Airborne Division
The Army’s 101st Airborne Division is one of those units with a storied lineage in war and peace.
The troopers of the 101st were among the first in France during the Normandy invasion June 6, 1944. The unit fought in France, Holland and was the first division to ever receive the Presidential Unit Citation for its defense of the strategic city of Bastogne in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.
The division fought valiantly in Vietnam and has been a “go-to” unit in Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Now it takes on the task of helping stop the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. 700 Division soldiers are among the more than 1,900 U.S. military personnel in support of the Joint Forces Command, USAID and the assessment process. They are contributing to the building of a 25-bed hospital near Roberts International Airport in Monrovia and other Ebola treatment facilities as well as moving supplies and equipment to people under assault from the deadly virus.
This mission requires a different set of capabilities from the Fort Campbell, Kentucky unit, but the soldiers are well-trained, well-equipped, well-led and they are able to adjust on the fly.
The 101st Airborne Division is an American treasure – created and maintained by veterans through its history and still contributing today.
Then and Now: 1st Battalion 5th Marine Regiment
The Marines of the 1st Battalion 5th Marine Regiment were among the first of the Corps to be called “Devil Dogs.”
Outnumbered, the battalion was part of the U.S. force plugged into the line during World War I to stop the final German offensive of 1918. The Germans called the Marines Teufel Hunden for the ferocity of their combat.
Since then, 1/5 Marines have fought in every major conflict. In World War II, they bravely fought to secure the airstrip at Peleliu – a strategic island in the Central Pacific.
In Korea, they endured sub-zero temperatures and constant Chinese attacks at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. In Vietnam, they fought and died house-to-house and street-to-street in the Battle of Hue City. During Desert Storm, they seized Al Jaber Airfield in Kuwait and in Operation Iraqi Freedom, they secured Fallujah. In Afghanistan, they engaged in some of the hottest fighting of the war in the Helmand province city of Sangin.
1/5 Marines are again in the lead. After more than a decade of war in the Middle East, the U.S. military is rebalancing to the Pacific. This year, the unit became the first battalion-sized element to deploy to Australia as part of Marine Rotational Force Darwin. The mere presence of this storied unit emphasizes America’s commitment to the region and its people.
The Marines efforts are critical to the safety and protection of America and its allies in an ever-evolving defense climate. Once again, 1/5 Marines have stepped up for the new mission, a willingness and readiness exemplified by all U.S. service members throughout the ages and continuing to today.
Then and Now: The Runnin’ Roos
Marines were still striving to secure the island of Iwo Jima while sailors of the Naval Construction Battalion 133 were working on the airfield.
Iwo Jima, Vietnam and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan are just a few storied engagements the “Runnin’ Roos” of Naval Construction Battalion 133 have fought in. This tradition of excellence, which sailors still respect and uphold, certainly continues today. The Roos are making tremendous contributions to U.S. military security in places such as Iraq, Kuwait, and Southeast Asia.
The latest is the multi-national fight against Ebola in West Africa. The “Runnin’ Roos” of Task Group 68 are providing engineering support to Operation United Assistance, conducting site surveys for facilities for health care workers fighting the Ebola outbreak. The assistance is part of a larger response that will provide up to 27 Ebola treatment units to the affected region with a focus on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The team is scheduled to remain in Monrovia, Liberia from four to six weeks to assist the USAID Disaster Assistance Relief Team with — determining sites for temporary structures such as support hospitals, laboratory isolation and quarantine units; air traffic planning for movement of personnel, supplies and equipment into-and-within the Ebola-affected region; and overall logistics planning.
Whether assisting in combat operations or providing humanitarian support, the men and women of the Naval Construction Force have been giving their all to protect our Nation and serve our armed forces with pride.
Then and Now: “Team Dover”
Known as the 709th Airlift Squadron today, the Air Force activated this unit of reservists in May 1943 at Ephrata Army Air Base, Washington. Their original mission was to be an operational training unit, but the unit was soon deployed and made its mark in history during World War II. The 709th Bombardment Squadron deployed to the European Theater and engaged in strategic bombing missions against Germany. In 1944 the unit was responsible for assaulting marshalling yards, railroad bridges and communication centers during the Battle of the Bulge.
In 1973, the 709th became the first airlift Associate unit in the Air Force Reserve. Earlier this year, they became the first C-5M mission capable unit in the Air Force Reserve. They are one of four flying squadrons currently assigned to Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Team Dover’s C-5M and C-17 flying squadrons lead the effort behind the robust retrograde missions in Afghanistan, ensuring the equipment and materials that supported warfighting efforts are recovered and returned home. A common item being retrograded is mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles or MRAPs, which are among the more than 50,000 estimated vehicles Team Dover needs to recover from Afghanistan.
The reserve and active duty airmen of Team Dover are playing a vital role in making this mission happen. They continue to break world records in operational cargo load capacity, which make it possible to recapitalize our war-fighting assets, ensuring the readiness of our U.S. Armed Forces.