4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division
|4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) 25th Infantry Division|
4th BCT(A), 25th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia
|Active||2005 – present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Part of||United States Army Alaska|
|Garrison/HQ||Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska|
|COL Matthew McFarlane|
The 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division is an airborne infantry brigade combat team of the United States Army. The unit is stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska 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 five in the United States Army; the others are the three brigade combat teams of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
United States Army Alaska is the brigade's next higher command, not the 25th Infantry Division which is headquartered in Hawaii. The brigade, along with 1st Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division, which is also stationed in Alaska, share in the history of the 25th Infantry Division, but are not subordinate to the division; the chain of command goes direct from United States Army Alaska to United States Army Pacific.
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 and early October the brigade began deployment in support Operation Iraqi Freedom V for a 12-month rotational 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 north Babil Governorate, Karbala Governorate and Najaf Governorate. However in January 2007, a battalion task force headed by 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was detached for service in Anbar Governorate with the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The unit 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 soldiers 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. Soldiers from the brigade were also involved in the 20 January 2007 Karbala provincial headquarters raid. During the 15-month deployment, the brigade lost 53 soldiers 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.
Operation Enduring Freedom IX-X
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 combat operations included Khost, Paktia, and Paktika provinces, all on the border with Pakistan; 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 augmented with an infantry company, B Co, 2/151 INF from the Indiana Army National Guard, an infantry battalion (1/121st Infantry Regiment)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. Serving under the 101st Airborne Division, then the 82nd Airborne Division, 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 25 March 2010 at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage with Alaska Governor Sean Parnell in attendance. Thirteen brigade Soldiers 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. SPC Bowe Bergdahl, assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment (Airborne), was held captive by the Taliban from June 2009 to June 2014.
On 1 July 2010, COL Howard relinquished command to LTC Shanon Mosakowski, the brigade's deputy commander. MG William Troy, commanding general of United States Army Alaska, hosted the change of command ceremony, which included a traditional pass and review with the brigade's six battalions represented by large formations on the field. COL Howard's next assignment was with NATO headquarters in Belgium. LTC Mosakowski served as commander until August 2010 when COL Morris T. Goins assumed command.
Operation Enduring Freedom XII-XIII
The brigade deployed to Afghanistan again in December 2011 for Operation Enduring Freedom XII-XIII. As with its previous deployment to Afghanistan, the brigade was headquartered at Forward Operating Base Salerno. The brigade returned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in October 2012 after 10 months. During the deployment, eight soldiers from the brigade lost their lives.
The brigade was constituted on 14 July 2005 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
Note: On 6 January 1969, 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division was activated at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii as a regional strategic reaction force while the remainder of the division was deployed to Vietnam. This unit was inactivated upon the return of the division on 15 January 1970 and provided personnel and equipment to 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. The unit does not share in the established lineage of the new 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne).
- 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment
- 3d Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment
- 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment
- 2d Battalion (Airborne), 377th Field Artillery Regiment
- 725th Support Battalion (Airborne)
- Special Troops Battalion
Campaign participation credit
- COL Michael X. Garrett 2005–08
- COL Michael L. Howard 2008–10
- COL Morris T. Goins 2010-12
- COL Matthew McFarlane 2012-present
-  25th Infantry Division Association: Reorganization of the 25th Infantry Division
-  4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) History
-  4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division "Spartan"
- "4th BCT’s re-enlistment rate leads Army". Army Times. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
- "U.S. Forces to Hand Control of Karbala Over to Iraqis on Monday". Fox News Channel. 27 October 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
- "Memorial unveiled at Fort Richardson". KTUU. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
- "Bittersweet return: The 4th Brigade Airborne". Anchorage Daily News. 19 December 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
- "Brigade leadership changes hands". KTUU. 19 June 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
- "Taliban video thought to show captured spc.". Army Times. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
- The 25th Infantry Division Association: A Brief History of the 25th Infantry Division