53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team
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Col. Rafael A. Ribas
Command Sergeant Major
Command Sgt. Maj. Virgil Robinson
Location: Pinellas Park
Mission: To conduct combat operations as an infantry brigade combat team. The 53rd IBCT is an essential component of the reserve structure that serves as a strategic hedge in the scenario of two major regional conflicts. It can perform a variety of functions – reinforcement, backfill, or augmentation of active component combat formations.
The 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is the largest unit in Florida
The 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is comprised of the following units: Special Troops Battalion;1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment (Seminole Battalion); 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment; 53rd Brigade Support Battalion.
The brigade was previously designated as an enhanced readiness brigade, one of only 15 National Guard combat units so recognized. The Florida Army National Guard 53rd Infantry Brigade was the first of 15 Army National Guard enhanced readiness brigades to rotate through the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Ft. Polk, La., June 10-26, 1995.
In 1992, the brigade participated in hurricane relief operations in response to Hurricane Andrew whereby the brigade was deployed for nearly two months to Miami.
In 2003, the 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, “The Hurricane Battalion,” headquartered in Miami, completed pre-mobilization training at Ft. Stewart, GA, and deployed to Jordan in preparation for the invasion of Iraq. The Hurricane Battalion was attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and served in Ar Ramadi, distinguishing itself with a Valorous Unit Award for its actions there. In late August, members of the “Hurricane Battalion” captured Al–Qaida member and Jordanian national Salem Musa Ijly aka Abu Inas a known weapons smuggler. The Hurricane Battalion conducted local security and assisted in reestablishing the Iraqi Police and Ministerial Guard forces as well as cordon and search operations. They served 291 days of continuous combat operations and brought every Soldier home.
The 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, “The Seminole Battalion,” headquartered in Orlando, completed pre-mobilization training at Ft. Stewart, GA, in 2003 and deployed individual companies throughout the Iraqi theatre of operations. Company C, 2-124th Infantry was initially attached to the 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces and were credited with being the first conventional U.S. forces to step into Iraq the evening of March 19, 2003. Company C was attached to various conventional units and served the remainder of their tour throughout Iraq. Companies A and B were deployed to Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait and eventually to Iraq. A platoon from Company B remained in Qatar providing security while the remainder of Company B and all of Company A were staged and operated out of Logistical Staging Area Anaconda/Balad Air base in Iraq. The companies provided base security, conducted local patrols and quick response force missions in addition to entry control point and traffic control point operations. The battalion headquarters deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 to conduct Embedded Training Team (ETT) operations under Task Force Phoenix I.
The 3rd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, “The Warrior Battalion,” headquartered in Panama City, completed pre-mobilization training at Ft. Stewart, GA, in 2003 and deployed as individual companies to Iraq. The primary mission of the companies initially was to provide security for Patriot Batteries throughout Iraq. The battalion minus its Company C which was assigned to the “Green Zone” in Baghdad, consolidated and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division in May and conducted security and stability operations in Baghdad for the remainder of their deployment.
In 2004 and 2005 the State of Florida experienced two very active Hurricane seasons. Members of the 53rd Infantry Brigade who recently deployed and those pending deployment were called upon to serve their state and its citizens. The Brigade conducted state and federal missions simultaneously and accomplished both in a manner which is in keeping with the highest traditions of the Florida Army National Guard and the United States Army. In 2004-2005 Joint Task Force 53 was the main effort response for three out of four storms in 2004. By the end of the mission, nearly 2,700 Soldiers and Airmen of the task force had traveled more than 1,800 miles from one end of the state to the other in nearly 70 days of state active duty.
In mid 2005, the 53rd Infantry Brigade Headquarters; the 53rd Brigade Support Battalion; the 2nd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery; the 153rd Engineer Company and Troop E, 153rd Cavalry Regiment deployed to Afghanistan to assume the Coalition Joint Task Force Phoenix mission training the new Afghanistan National Army. Nearly 1,100 Florida Army National Guard Soldiers deployed with the brigade to become part of the entire task force. The brigade had an additional tasking to provide embedded training teams throughout Afghanistan and did so by augmenting the brigade headquarters with Soldiers from the three Infantry Battalions.
In early 2006, Company D from the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment was mobilized and deployed to Iraq to conduct convoy security operations. The company was attached to the 25th Infantry Division and conducted operations in Northern Iraq near the ancient city of Nineveh. Company D distinguished itself and was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 2nd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery and the 53rd Support Battalion were also mobilized for deployment to Afghanistan. The 2-116th was reconfigured into a 650-Soldier security force with responsibility for base security at Camp Phoenix and the five Regional Corps Assistance Group headquarters in Pol-e-Charki, Gardez, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif, as well as convoy escort throughout Afghanistan. In order to accomplish these missions, the unit was augmented by Troop E, 153rd Cavalry and engineers and volunteers from the 124th Infantry Regiment. The Support Battalion served as the logistical task force (LTF), providing the full spectrum of supply, health and maintenance support to CJTF Phoenix.
In 2008 Company D, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment returned from its deployment to Iraq. During the deployment, Company D performed Security Force missions in the volatile area along the Syrian border, helped train Iraqi police and provided professional oversight for the Iraqi law enforcement units in Tal Afar and Mosul.
Also in 2008, several Overseas Deployment Training (ODT) missions were conducted by members of the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Members of the 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment conducted two weeks of intense training at Camp Iwate, Japan, during Operation North Wind 2008. This joint training between members of 1st Battalion and the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force provided the opportunity for U.S. forces to share first hand combat experience from recent deployments. Members of the 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment, along with members of 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Groups, and a cadre of Pathfinder instructors from the National Guard’s Warrior Training Center, deployed in April to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to participate in Operation Inspired Gambit 2008. Inspired Gambit 2008 was a joint operation where U.S. and Pakistani military leaders shared their techniques, tactics and procedures. Most of the participants, both U.S. and Pakistani, were combat veterans. Many had the shared experience of fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Members of the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment deployed to the Sultanate of Oman. This mission marked the very first Army National Guard ODT to a Combat Zone. Training was conducted at an Omani Base within the Rubkut Training area located in Southern Oman. Training objectives for the mission were to promote and build rapport between U.S. and Omani Forces, promote regional stability and expand counter-terrorism cooperation and interoperability.
On April 6, 2008, Col. Richard J. Gallant took command of the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center. Gallant followed Brigadier General John M. Perryman, who retired after more than 31 years of service. Gallant maintained a simple vision for the brigade; “That the 53rd IBCT continue to be the very best in the Army.”
More than 2,500 Soldiers from throughout the state cycled through Camp Blanding in 2009 in preparation for service in Iraq and Kuwait. The six-week training included everything from Infantry and convoy security tactics, to double-checking the Soldiers’ medical readiness. It was the largest single training event ever done in the Florida National Guard.
On January 4, 2010 the recently re-designated 53D IBCT completed pre-mobilization training at Ft. Hood, TX, and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. The IBCT’s mission was to provide command and control operations throughout Kuwait, security forces and convoy escort operations into southern Iraq. The 53rd IBCT operated seven camps in Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The mission of the IBCT was a non-standard mission, which called for the IBCT to provide combat escort missions and base sustainment operations throughout Kuwait and into Iraq. The Hurricane and Seminole Battalions performed the convoy escort mission that culminated in the escort of U.S military forces out of Iraq during the mass drawdown that ushered in Operation New Dawn. Base support operations were conducted by the remainder of the IBCT’s units. Base support operations consisted of but were not limited to ensuring available housing for military and civilian personnel assigned to the Kuwait theatre of operations and recovering equipment from personnel leaving the theatre of operation. Soldiers from the IBCT interacted with local nationals and conducted port of entry inspections; built structures that improved the living conditions for personnel and streamlined operations to effectively use taxpayer assets with minimal waste. Soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team participated in one of the biggest logistical efforts since World War II during their deployment by facilitating the retrograde mission of bringing Soldiers and equipment out of Iraq at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit Insignia: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the Noncolor Bearing Units of the 53d Armored Brigade on 9 January 1967. It was redesignated for the 53d Infantry Brigade on 25 July 1968.