As American troops in Iraq are seeing increased attacks, Fort Carson soldiers are preparing to deploy there under the new boss they got Friday.
Ahead of the deployment the post Friday hosted a ceremony to welcome the 1st Brigade Combat Team’s new commander, Col. Andrew Steadman, who took command from Col. Ike Sallee.
The change comes days after Fort Carson announced 1st Brigade – more than 4,000 soldiers strong – will deploy to Iraq to help Iraqi Security Forces and other allies defeat Islamic State terrorists. A date for the deployment wasn’t announced.
The brigade has plenty of experience in Iraq, including being credited with capturing former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in December 2003.
Attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria in recent days followed retaliatory strikes President Joe Biden ordered on facilities tied to militants.
Earlier this week, an armed drone over Baghdad's Green Zone was shot down by defensive systems at the U.S. Embassy compound and rockets landed on al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq. No injuries were reported, according to the Pentagon.
“We take the security and safety of our people overseas extremely seriously,” Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby told reporters this week. “And you've seen us retaliate appropriately when that safety and security has been threatened.”
Sallee, who took command in 2019, led the brigade through the COVID-19 pandemic along with intense training and a mock war at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.
“Our soldiers and leaders have been training hard, preparing to answer our nation’s call,” Sallee said in a press release earlier this week prior to the change of command. “We are ready for this mission.”
Sallee’s is headed to Fort Hood Texas for duty as III Corps operations officer, the Army said.
Steadman, an Atlanta native, will lead the brigade on a deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. mission to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. His new unit is equipped with eight-wheeled Stryker armored vehicles that carry infantry soldiers who exit the vehicle to fight.
A 2000 Air Force Academy graduate who was commissioned into the Army, Steadman’s came to Fort Carson from the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Penn. He has served as a rifle platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division, troop commander for the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and as squadron and regimental operations officer in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. He has been to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and served as a military aide to President Barack Obama.
Steadman said the brigade’s troops are a cohesive team committed to caring for one another, being ready to fight and win, and growing leaders along the way.
“I have supreme confidence in this brigade,” Steadman said. “They can do whatever mission comes their way.”