Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Article by Pam Waters of The Glenville Sentinel: Colonel Chuck Sexton, Commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd ID, no stranger to deployment

Colonel Charles "Chuck" Sexton, Commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, is no stranger to deployment to the Middle East. However, now he can see the improvements in the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces, especially compared to his 15-month deployment to Iraq in 2003.

"This is still a dangerous place for our Soldiers, but not like it was in 2003. We still have losses, and if we lose one, that is a 100 percent loss to some family. It is still a lethal environment for our Soldiers," said Colonel Sexton, who talked with The Glennville Sentinel from Mousul, Iraq, Monday morning.

The area that the 6000-Soldier 2nd Brigade covers is the size of Massachusetts and Vermont, with the adding of two new provinces to the area for which they are responsible.
The population of this area is approximately 3.7 million people, said Sexton.

The 27-year Army veteran speaks from vast experience. From New York originally, Colonel Sexton is proud of the service his father gave during World War II.
Colonel Sexton is now stationed at Ft. Stewart for the third time - the first was in the early 1990s, when he was first deployed during the first Gulf War. Separations from family are a part of the Army life, and he credits his wife of 28 years, Melody, as a real trooper who stays positive and active at their home on Ft. Stewart.

"Our son, Chuck, who is 24, is also in Iraq, serving in the 82nd Division in the 2nd Airborne Division, but he is in another province. I did get to see him at Christmas," said Colonel Sexton, who left from Ft. Stewart in October of 2009 for his one-year deployment to Iraq.

The couple also have a daughter, Callie, who is 26 and is an engineer in Orlando.

The family has ties to Glennville, since they are familiar with the Glennville community. "Peggy Anderson of Glennville taught both our children at Diamond Elementary School, and after they were grown, they returned to visit her on our second time being stationed at Ft. Stewart," said Colonel Sexton, whose family has visited the Glennville Sweet Onion Festival and has fond memories of their other stations at Ft. Stewart.

The Colonel expressed the pride he has in his Soldiers and the mission they are accomplishing. "We are continuing to help the Iraqis to secure themselves, and they are getting pretty good at it. They are learning more and more how to handle the situations, and even though they still don't have a bomb disposal unit, an engineering unit, and military working dogs, they are seeing the value in getting these," said Colonel Sexton. "There is a lot at stake here, where the recent election process was new and unique for the Iraqis. They had Hussein for 35 years and then 70 years of suffering and dictatorship before him. This is a first shot on changing their own destiny," he said, and added that the election process was closely monitored by international observers.

"We take so much for granted in America, while, in Iraq, the literacy rate is so high that on the election ballots, the pictures of the candidates appeared for those who could not read or write," he said. "We often focus on the worst parts of America without first realizing what a great country we have and how privileged we are," said Colonel Sexton.

He pointed out that this new election will allow for a high probability of a transition of power, which is often not seen in that part of the world.

"The Iraqis already seem to have a strong sense of nationalism. It's the only country I've seen that flies its flag as much as we do. The better trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces and this election give the people a new hope and optimism for the future," said Colonel Sexton.

He added that U.S. troop morale is good, especially since the Soldiers can see the difference in the climate from their 2003 deployment to now.
"Their mission now is more of advise and assist, and they can see the results of what they are accomplishing. Our Soldiers are able to have more contact with families at home through e-mail, and this helps with morale. I remember in 1990 during the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) we would travel every three weeks in a five-ton truck on a two-hour ride to reach a phone center where we could get to talk for ten minutes to a family member, and then we'd have that long two-hour drive back," said Colonel Sexton.

"We can see the progress made by the Iraqi Security Forces, which is broadening every day, and our Soldiers are proud to have been a positive part of that," said Colonel Sexton.

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