Task Force Legion arrives in Iraq, prepares to take over mission

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By Capt. Andi Hahn, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs

2nd Lt. Christopher Peterson of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade talks with a contractor as part of his duties in the West LIberty Mayor's Cell while deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

BAGHDAD, Iraq–Soldiers from Task Force Legion, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, recently arrived in Iraq and began preparations to take over operations from the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade, at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad.

The mission is a unique one for the Kentucky Guardsmen as they are preparing their area of operations for transfer over to the Iraq Army and government.  The 116th paved the way for the 149th MEB, but there is still a lot to complete before the troop withdrawal at the end of the year.

“We have been here for nine months and have laid all the ground work for the U.S. forces to hand over many of the camps,” said Staff Sgt. April Davis, the 116th Brigade Public Affairs non-commissioned officer.

Capt. Benjamin Cook (left), of Caldwell, Idaho, commander of A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 116th Cavalry Regiment, 116th Garrison Command, United States Division - Center, talks with Maj. Michael Stevens (center), of Louisville, Ky., and Sgt. 1st Class Charles Johnson (right), of Jeffersonville, Ind., both with the headquarters element of 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, about force protection operations at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. The two Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers have been in Baghdad since March to learn the mission of the 116th Cavalry Brigade in order to help prepare the 149th MEB to take over the mission in September. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Heidi Paynter, 116th Garrison Command, USD-C)

“The 149th will now facilitate that process and really be the ones to turn out the lights at Victory Base Complex,” she said.

The 149th Soldiers will work side by side with 116th Guardsmen to learn their jobs and take the reins soon.

It’s great to have the 116th still here helping,”  said Spc. Jackson Gudgel, 149th MEB information specialist.  “They have been here a while, they know what’s going on and what kind of problems they have run in to. It helps us know our job better and know in advance what kind of problems we may face.”

Outside of VBC, the 149th MEB has units deployed to different areas around Iraq performing force protection and convoy security missions.  It is uncertain the tour length for the brigade.  However, the Soldiers are prepared to stay as long as it takes.

“We watch the news just like everyone else,” said 1st Sgt. Richard Southard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company.  “We understand it’s up in the air if U.S. forces are staying longer or heading home.  We are part of that and are just here to do our job until the mission is complete.”

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