2nd Infantry Brigade, 11th Airborne Division
About the Brigade
The 2nd Brigade, 11th Airborne Division is an airborne infantry brigade combat team of the United States Army. The unit is home-stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska near Anchorage and is the only airborne brigade combat team in the Pacific Theater. It is also the newest airborne brigade combat team and one of only six in the United States Army; the others are the four brigade combat teams of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
11th Airborne Division is the brigade's higher command, located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright, Alaska. 1st and 2nd Brigades were activated in dual ceremonies on the 78th anniversary of D-Day - June 6th, 2022, along with the 11th Airborne Division itself.
History of the Brigade
In 2004, the United States Army announced the Army Modernization Plan, intended to restructure the U.S. Army by creating new modular brigade combat teams. A new airborne brigade combat team at Fort Richardson, Alaska was included as part of the restructuring. The new brigade was established as the fourth brigade under the lineage of the 25th Infantry Division and the first new U.S. airborne unit created since the end of World War II. The 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment (Airborne) then operating as a battalion task force and located at Fort Richardson was consolidated with the new brigade. The battalion served as a flagship unit, providing senior personnel and a training cadre for the other units of the brigade. On 14 July 2005 the brigade was officially constituted at the athletic fields of Buckner Field House, with COL Michael X. Garrett becoming the first brigade commander. At the ceremony, he officially christened the "Spartan Brigade" with the new motto "Sparta Lives."
The brigade spent the remainder of 2005 and 2006 achieving full personnel strength and conducting training for future combat deployment. The first major training exercise was conducted at Fort Greely, Alaska in April 2006 and was followed by pre-deployment certification at the US Army Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana in August of the same year. During the same month the fall deployment of the brigade to Iraq was announced.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
In late September 2006 the brigade began deployment in support Operation Iraqi Freedom V for a 12-month deployment. Initially, the brigade was subordinate to Multi-National Division-Baghdad under the 1st Cavalry Division and was responsible for an area of operations comprising the North Babil Governorate, Karbala Governorate and Najaf Governorate. However in January 2007, a battalion task force led by 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was detached for service in Anbar Governorate with the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The battalion would not return to brigade control until June 2007. In March 2007, the brigade deployment was extended for a period of 90 days and the brigade was placed under the divisional command of the then new Multi-National Division-Central under the command of 3rd Infantry Division. During this period, the geographic disparity of 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment located just eight miles south of Baghdad brought about their detachment from the brigade and attachment to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division for the duration of the deployment.
Over 14 months of combat and civil operations in the brigade area of operations resulted in improvement of the security situation, a period that coincided with the Iraq Surge and Sons of Iraq movement. Although the brigade had trained in conventional and direct action missions prior to deployment, the brigade conducted many traditionally unconventional operations, specifically the training of foreign internal defense forces and the support and utilization of irregular forces in combat and intelligence operations. The brigade also boasted the highest rate of re-enlistment of any brigade in the US Army during fiscal year 2007.
Under Multi-National Division-Central, the brigade took part in several major operations including Black Eagle, Gecko, Geronimo Strike III, Marne Avalanche, Marne Torch, LaGuardia, and Washing Machine. The brigade also successfully returned Karbala Governorate to Iraqi provincial control. Elements of the brigade took part in the search for downed F-16 pilot MAJ Troy Gilbert and the paratroopers abducted in the May 2007 ambush of a patrol from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, successfully recovering the remains of PFC Joseph Anzack. Paratroopers from the brigade were also involved in the 20 January 2007 Karbala provincial headquarters raid. During the 15-month deployment, the brigade lost 53 paratroopers who are commemorated on a black stone memorial at Pershing Field on Fort Richardson.
The brigade began redeployment to Fort Richardson beginning in November 2007 and was completely redeployed by December. The brigade conducted a redeployment ceremony attended by Governor Sarah Palin and other dignitaries on 19 December 2007 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. In June 2008, COL Michael Garrett relinquished command to LTC Stephen Hughes as the unit began the process of undergoing rest and refit in advance of future deployments.
1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment and the deployed units of 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment were awarded the Valorous Unit Award for the achievements during the deployment.
Operation Enduring Freedom
COL Michael L. Howard assumed command in July 2008. With the brigade already identified for deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom IX-X, COL Howard led a rapid train-up including a month-long rotation at the National Training Center in October-November 2008.
In February 2009, just 14 months after returning from its 15-month deployment to Iraq, the brigade deployed to eastern Afghanistan as a part of Regional Command East, International Security Assistance Force. The brigade's area of operations included Khost, Paktia, and Paktika provinces, all on the border with Pakistan; the brigade headquarters was at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost. Known as Task Force Yukon, the brigade was augmented with eight battalion-sized units: a military police battalion from United States Army Europe, an infantry battalion from the Georgia Army National Guard, an aviation battalion from the 101st Airborne Division (replaced mid-tour with an aviation battalion from the 3rd Infantry Division), three Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and two Army National Guard Agri-Business Development Teams. Total task force strength was approximately 5,500 personnel. During Operation Enduring Freedom the brigade served under 101st Airborne Division, and later 82nd Airborne Division for the final stages of the deployment. The brigade conducted counter-insurgency operations for 12 months in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces and supervised governance, development, and agriculture projects in coordination with the Afghan government.
The brigade redeployed to Fort Richardson in February-March 2010. The welcome home ceremony was held on March 25, 2010 at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage with Alaska Governor Sean Parnell in attendance. Thirteen brigade Paratroopers were killed in action during the deployment; they are honored with a black granite memorial located in front of the brigade headquarters at Fort Richardson.
Awards from the deployment include the Meritorious Unit Commendation and Valorous Unit Award to 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment.
On July 1, 2010, COL Howard relinquished command to LTC Shanon Mosakowski, the brigade's deputy commander, until August 2010 when COL Morris T. Goins assumed command.
In December 2011, the brigade deployed again to eastern Afghanistan as a part of Regional Command East, International Security Assistance Force. The brigade's area of combat operations included Khost, Paktia, and Paktika provinces, all on the border with Pakistan. The brigade headquarters was at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost. Known as Task Force Spartan, the brigade was augmented with two battalion-sized units, an aviation battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division, two Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and two Army National Guard Agri-Business Development Teams. Total task force strength was approximately 4,500 personnel. Serving under the 1st Cavalry Division, then the 1st Infantry Division, the brigade conducted counter-insurgency operations for 10 months in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces and supervised governance, development, and agriculture projects in coordination with the Afghan government.
The brigade redeployed to Fort Richardson in October 2012. Eight brigade Paratroopers were killed in action during the deployment.
Unit awards include the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the brigade and deploying units, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne); 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry.
Operation Joint Guardian
On September 28, 2014, the brigade deployed to Kosovo as part of Kosovo Force 19 to take command of Multinational Battle Group-East. Originally aligned to 173rd Airborne Brigade, the Spartan Brigade aligned against Kosovo Force 19 to allow 173rd to deploy to the Baltics.
Prior to the deployment, 4/25 had just completed JRTC 14-06, immediately ramped up to deploy the brigade to Germany in a few months. The brigade conducted a mission rehearsal exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center and went straight to Kosovo. The 1-40th CAV with the majority of the brigade staff formed the nucleus of the force that was joined by a field hospital in Germany and a National Guard Aviation Battalion out of New Jersey in Kosovo along with units from the aforementioned eight allied nations. The brigade controlled Multinational Battle Group - East while the Italian Army led MNBG - West. The Spartan Brigade earned the Army Superior Unit Award upon completion of the mission.
Operation Resolute Support / Operation Freedom Sentinel
On 14 August 2017, COL Jason J. Jones assumed command of the Spartan Brigade from COL Jeffrey S. Crapo. On September 8, 2017, COL Jason Jones and CSM Robert Duenas cased the colors signaling the brigade's return to Afghanistan. COL Mark Colbrook, U.S. Army Alaska Deputy Commander, hosted the casing of the colors with guest speaker Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) providing motivating words about the brigade.
The brigade deployed to eastern Afghanistan as part of Operation Resolute Support to conduct the Train, Advise, and Assist mission and Operation Freedom Sentinel and to provide needed support to Special Forces and operators within the region. The brigade deployed paratroopers to 25 different locations throughout Afghanistan to support and further legitimize the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and its partners to secure the Train, Advise, Assist Command-East region and the seven provinces of Task Force Southeast against terrorist threats from the likes of the Taliban and Islamic State Khurasan.
The complexity of the mission required a diverse staff and organization of units, thus Task Force Spartan was formed to accomplish both unique mission sets. The brigades organic units, formed five separate battalion task forces: 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (Task Force 1 Geronimo) which exercised tactical control of a small Polish Army contingent and the Police Advisory Team, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne) (Task Force 3 Geronimo), 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment (Task Force Steel), 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment (Task Force Denali) and augmented by 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment (Task Force Summit) from 10th Mountain Division. Task Force Spartan's complex structure exercised command and control over paratroopers, sailors, Marines, airmen, coalition forces and contracted personnel to ensure mission success over 25 different locations across Afghanistan.
Serving under the 3rd Infantry Division, the brigade conducted the Train, Advise, and Assist mission as well as counter-insurgency operations for 9 months in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces and advised Corps level leadership to assist them legitimize the military and police of Afghanistan in coordination with the Afghan government.
In nine months, the brigade made improvements to population control in the TAAC-E and Task Force Southeast regions increasing the overall stability and legitimizing and enabling the local Afghan government to further establish sovereignty across the region. The support to the 201st Corps Selab and 202nd Zone Afghan National Police.
Task Force Denali, as part of Task Force Southeast, spearheaded the expansion of Advisory Platform Lightning in Gardez, Paktiya and the re-establishment of Forward Operating Base Shank in Baraki Barak, and Logar. Task Force Denali Paratroopers synchronized efforts across the warfighting functions to establish initial security for joint engineering efforts, build combat power from a Troop to a 1,500 person Task Force and ultimately enable the employment of the 1st SFAB across the seven provinces of Task Force Southeast.
The brigade established the foundation and planned the integration of the first Security Force Assistance Brigade in the TAAC-E and Task Force Southeast regions, further improving the capabilities of both the coalition and host nation forces throughout GIRoA. Spartan Janus, a detailed Counterintelligence Screening process to vet out potential threats to mission and ensured advising success was conducted from January 2018 through the arrival of the SFAB at TAAC-E and Task Force Southeast. The detailed synchronization plan laid out by Task Force Spartan set the conditions for the future of the advising mission in Afghanistan and potential areas of conflict for years to come.
Of the contributions during the campaign, the Spartan Brigade achieved joint success alongside the Afghan police and military forces supported by coalition forces to regain control and set conditions for the 2018 elections during Spartan Nike. The coordinated operation focused on the regaining population control in the Alingar district and set conditions for future operations in the TAAC-East area of operations.
Activation and Reflagging as 2nd Brigade, 11th Airborne Division
On June 6th, 2022, the Brigade reflagged as 2nd Brigade, 11th Airborne Division, in a ceremony at Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Present were members of the historic 11th Airborne Division as well as numerous politicians, community leaders, and Gen. McConnville, the Chief of Staff of the Army.