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Tuesday, 22 November 2011 13:10

‘Black Jack’ Brigade Transitions Warhorse

Written by Sgt. Quentin Johnson

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Once again the “Black Jack” brigade has added to its successful legacy by officially transferring another base in the Diyala province to the Iraqi government.

Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Advise and Assist), 1st Cavalry Division, transitioned their fourth and largest base in the U.S. Division – North area, Contingency Operating Base Warhorse, in October 2011.

Black Jack soldiers arrived at Warhorse early May 2011, following a long lineage of units that have operated there for more than eight years.

The COB was originally called Camp Boom until late 2003 when elements of the 4th Infantry Division took control of the base and changed the name to Warhorse, according to

The 2nd Bde., 4th Infantry Division, helped the Iraqis establish a working government and redefined the legal system within the Diyala province. Other units such as the 1st Inf. Div., 2nd Inf. Div. and 25th Inf. Div. continued the efforts in rebuilding Iraq, leading to the final brigade’s charge.

The Black Jack mission was unique and vast as it advised, assisted, trained and equipped the Iraqi Security Forces while enhancing the provincial leaderships’ capacity and ability to govern, said Col. John Peeler, commander 2nd BCT.

Additionally, the brigade executed various counter terrorism missions, multiple projects supporting the surrounding communities, key leader engagements with security forces and governmental leaders, continuous force protection operations and humanitarian missions, played host to various U.S. and foreign distinguished visitors, said Peeler.

Black Jack worked with the ISF to ensure local citizens had a stable and safe environment, added Peeler.

“We spent a great amount of time assisting our ISF partners to build their security capacity,” he said.

It’s that strategic partnership and friendship that will have a lasting impression on Black Jack, explained Peeler.

“The Black Jack brigade will certainly miss the daily interaction with the people of Southern Diyala now that we have departed Warhorse,” stated Peeler.

The brigade took charge in the consolidation and transition of the base from the beginning, said Capt. Matthew Burgoon, officer-in-charge of the Warhorse Mayor Cell.

Upon arrival and assumption of the mayor’s cell from their predecessor, the 2nd AAB, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, Burgoon and his team of Soldiers from the 2nd Special Troops Battalion and 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., 2/1 CAV (AAB), worked tirelessly on the consolidation efforts at Warhorse.

“Myself, some lieutenants and non-commissioned officers were selected to take charge of the mayor’s cell,” explained Burgoon. “Our team was made up of Soldiers out of the STB and 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt.”

Coordinating with 2nd AAB, 25th Inf. Div. and USD – N planners, Burgoon and his team were able to sort out consolidation timelines while working around the Black Jack brigade’s mission requirements, he said.

Beginning the task was fairly easy because of the joint efforts of the 2nd AAB, 25th Inf. Div. and the Black Jack brigade.

“They [2/25th Inf. Div.] already had a great plan on how we were going to get out of here,” added Burgoon. “They had already identified a lot of the equipment that was still left; they had identified what personnel had remained here.”

After the departure of the 2/25th Inf. Div. in late June, the mayor cell turned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2/1 CAV (AAB), 2nd STB, 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., and all civilian personnel on Warhorse to transition the base, according to Burgoon.

Working collectively, soldiers consolidated more than 40 – 20 ft. and 40 ft. containers full of excess equipment for distribution and retrograding, said Burgoon. Additionally, more than 50 non-tactical vehicles were cleaned, maintained and retrograded from Warhorse.

With approximately 25 housing pads (sectioned off areas of land containing housing units) to close on Warhorse, time was of the essence as they were consolidated and reconfigured continuously each week.

“We closed about five pads a week,” said Sgt. Jennifer Peterson, mayor cell NCOIC, about the transition timeline.

As operational deadlines increased, the mayor’s cell maintained efficiency despite the short time frame they had to work with.

“It’s was scary at times … it seemed like we just got there and our closing time just kept getting closer and closer,” added Burgoon, “but it was good. It all related to getting people and equipment off the base.”

Warhorse was transferred to the Iraq Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) along with multiple pieces of gym equipment, generators, multiple buildings, a dining facility, and miscellaneous electronic and sporting games to enhance the Iraqi’s morale and physical fitness while on the COB.

“Warhorse was signed for by the ministry of youth and sports, and so they intend to make that base a kind of a sports camp for Iraqi youth,” explained Maj. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, deputy commanding general, USF-I, during a recent interview.

November 22, 2011: Written by Sgt. Quentin Johnson, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade Public Affairs, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division-North

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