Team Mountain – an integrated, multi-component, joint team of Soldiers, airmen, civilians, Families, and regional partners – prepares globally responsive combat-ready forces; on order, rapidly deploys adaptive expeditionary units and executes unified land operations in support of the joint force to win in a complex world.
World War II
Under the command of Maj. Gen. Lloyd E. Jones, the 10th Light Division (Alpine) was constituted on July 10, 1943, and activated on July 15, at Camp Hale, Colorado. After extensive winter and mountain warfare training, the division moved to Camp Swift, Texas, for additional combat training. The 10th Light Division was re-designated the 10th Mountain Division on Nov. 6, 1944, and was deployed to the Italian theater under the command of Maj. Gen. George P. Hays soon thereafter.
By January 1945, the division was executing combat operations in northern Italy. During these operations, the 10th Mountain Division seized German positions on Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere, breaking through the German mountain defenses into the Po River Valley and reaching the northern end of Lake Garda by the war’s end. On April 14, Pfc. John D. Magrath performed the combat actions that would make him the division's first Soldier to earn the Medal of Honor.
During nearly five months of intense ground combat in Italy, the division was opposed by 100,000 German troops, yet effectively destroyed five German divisions, unhinging the defense in Italy and drawing forces away from other theaters. The division sustained nearly 5,000 casualties during World War II, with 999 Soldiers killed in action.
Following the German surrender, the 10th Mountain Division deployed with troops from Yugoslavia to the Italian border near Trieste, in support of Mission UDINE. After redeploying, the division was inactivated on Nov. 30, 1945, at Camp Carson, Colorado.
To meet the Army's requirements to train large numbers of replacements, the 10th Infantry Division was reactivated as a training division on July 1, 1948, at Fort Riley, Kansas. In January 1954, the Department of the Army announced the 10th Infantry Division would become a combat infantry division with rotations to Europe to deter the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. Stretched in an arc from Frankfurt to Nuremburg, the division occupied a strategic center position in the NATO defense forces until it was replaced in 1958 by the 3rd Infantry Division. The division was inactivated at Fort Benning, Georgia, on June 14, 1958.
The modern 10th Mountain Division was reactivated at Fort Drum, New York, on Feb. 13, 1985, as one of the U.S. Army’s new "light infantry” divisions under the command of Brig. Gen. William S. Carpenter. It was designed to meet a wide range of worldwide missions, adding a new dimension to the strategic mobility of the U.S. Armed Forces. The division's rapid mobility enabled the arrival of troops in a crisis area before conflict began and demonstrated U.S. resolve and capability. The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was designed to reassure friends and allies while deterring adversaries.
Operation Desert Shield / Storm
Although the 10th Mountain Division (LI) did not deploy to Southwest Asia as a unit, approximately 1,200 division Soldiers deployed to Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm in support of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division in Iraq. The largest unit to deploy was the 548th Supply and Services Battalion with approximately 1,000 Soldiers. After Hurricane Andrew struck south Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) assumed responsibility for providing disaster relief as Task Force Mountain. Division Soldiers set up relief camps; distributed food, clothing, medical necessities, and building supplies; and helped to rebuild homes and clear debris.
Operation Restore Hope
Under the command of Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Arnold and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert C. Sexton the division headquarters again deployed on Dec. 3, 1992, and was designated the headquarters for all Army Forces (ARFOR) of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) for Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. The division's mission was to secure major cities and roads to provide safe passage for relief supplies to the starving Somali population. On Oct. 3, 1993, a 10th Mountain Division (LI) quick reaction force (TF 2-14 Infantry) secured the ground evacuation route for Special Operations Task Force Ranger during the Battle of Mogadishu.
Operation Uphold Democracy
Under the command of Maj. Gen. David C. Meade and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse G. Laye, the division made the first assault landing in Haiti as Multinational Force Haiti (MNF Haiti) and Joint Task Force 190 during Operation Uphold Democracy in 1994. When President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti on Oct. 15, 1994, his security was provided by the 10th Mountain Division (LI).
Between 1997 and 2001, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) continued to support peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations around the world, serving with the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai Desert to monitor the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. In the fall of 1998, the division received notice that it would serve as senior headquarters of Task Force Eagle under the command of Maj. Gen. James L. Campbell and Command Sgt. Maj. Teddy E. Harman, providing a peacekeeping force to support the ongoing operation within the Multinational Division North areas of responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Elements of the division were forward deployed in Kosovo in 2001 and 2002 as a part of Operation Joint Guardian, where they performed multiple peacekeeping roles.
War on terrorism - Afghanistan
In 2001, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) provided the first conventional combat forces to deploy in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Division Soldiers secured critical facilities in the U.S. and the Middle East as well as a key forward operating base in Uzbekistan before deploying into Afghanistan as the first conventional force to reinforce special operations units on the ground. During Operation Anaconda in March 2002, elements of the division headquarters, commanded by Maj. Gen. F.L. “Buster” Hagenback and Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth C. Lopez, led more than 1,700 U.S. and 1,000 Afghan troops in fighting in the Shahi-Kot Valley. This force included the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division headquarters; 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment; 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment; and the 3rd Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3PPCLI). U.S. forces estimated 500 fighters were killed during the battle.
Elements from across the division returned to Afghanistan in 2003. The division headquarters, led by Maj. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis M. Carey, assumed command of Coalition Joint Task Force 180, supervising fighting brigades throughout Afghanistan. The division's 1st Brigade joined other coalition forces conducting combat operations to eliminate terrorist elements in the region and to provide security and humanitarian relief efforts to the Afghan people. The 2nd Brigade provided forces as part of Task Force Phoenix to train the Afghan National Army. The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed for the first time to Afghanistan, providing aviation support across in the country. During 2003, more than 6,000 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers deployed in support of the war on terrorism.
War on terrorism - Iraq
In July 2004, only six months after returning from Afghanistan, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The brigade secured the contested areas of western Baghdad for the Jan. 31 national elections, preventing enemy attacks from disrupting Iraq’s first democratic election. Following the return of the division headquarters and 1st Brigade from Afghanistan, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) began transforming into a modular division. The division officially transformed into a modular unit during a ceremony on Sept. 13, 2004. As part of the ceremony, seven units were inactivated and 13 activated, including the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The 4th Brigade Combat Team was activated at Fort Polk, Louisiana, on Jan. 16, 2005.
In August 2005, the 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to western Baghdad, Iraq. The brigade was responsible for security during the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum and the Dec. 15 national election. The division headquarters, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and two battalion task forces from the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. The division headquarters, led by Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley and Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph C. Borja, assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force 76 and supervised operations to defeat enemy extremist movements, establish enduring security, and set conditions for long-term stability in Afghanistan. During 3rd Brigade Combat Team's deployment, Soldiers executed four significant combat operations during 12 months in the Pech Valley, Kunar Province, Helmand Province, and throughout eastern Afghanistan. While serving in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti became the division's second Soldier to earn the Medal of Honor during combat operations in Nuristan Province on June 21, 2006.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team again deployed to Iraq in August 2006, moving into an area known as the "Triangle of Death," for a 15-month deployment as a part of the surge of troops. In winter 2006, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed again to Afghanistan as the only aviation brigade in the theater, providing support for International Security Assistance Force assets throughout the country. The 10th Sustainment Brigade also deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. As part of Task Force Muleskinner and the Logistics Command, the brigade assumed the vital mission of tracking and coordinating the movement of supplies, equipment, and personnel throughout the region.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team returned to Iraq in 2007, conducting stability and security operations in northern Iraq and training the Sons of Iraq to protect their neighborhoods from insurgent violence. In 2008, the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq and was involved with coordinating and fighting large-scale operations including Operation Phantom Phoenix. The headquarters of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) deployed to Iraq for the first time in April 2008. Led by Maj. Gen. Michael L. Oates and Command Sgt. Maj. James W. Redmore, the division served as the command element for southern Baghdad until late March 2009, when it displaced to Basrah to coordinate security for Multinational Division South. In the fall of 2008, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 10th Sustainment Brigade also deployed to Iraq. The 10th CAB conducted personnel movements, re-supplies, air assaults, medical evacuations, and security and attack operations in support of Multinational Division North. The 10th Sustainment Brigade orchestrated sustainment support for more than 140,000 Soldiers, Marines, and civilians.
War on terrorism - Afghanistan and Iraq
In January 2009, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Logar and Wardak provinces in Afghanistan, guarding the southern approaches to Kabul and bringing much-needed security to both provinces. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team completed another tour in Iraq from 2009 to 2010, during the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn. The 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 as a part of the surge, becoming the first U.S. Army brigade combat team to operate in northern Afghanistan. Both the division headquarters and the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade again deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. The division headquarters, led by Maj. Gen. James L. Terry and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher K. Greca, assumed responsibility for Regional Command South from October 2010 to October 2011, while the 4th Brigade Combat Team conducted combat operations in Wardak and Logar provinces and the 10th CAB supported all of Regional Command East.
In the spring of 2011, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team deployed back to Regional Command South to quell the rising tension in the Zhari and Maiwand districts of Kandahar Province. The brigade faced some of the most deeply rooted enemy forces that 10th Mountain Soldiers had seen in more than seven years. Through multiple combat operations south of Highway 1, the brigade successfully attacked through the “green zone” to the Arghandab River, forcing a wedge between insurgents and the Afghan population, which increased security and stability for the Kandahar region. As the brigade combat teams began to redeploy, the 10th Sustainment Brigade assumed forward operations from October 2011 to October 2012. This would be the last of the major brigades that would deploy under a 12-month cycle, as the Army transitioned to a nine-month deployment cycle.
In the fall of 2012, the Army designated two of the 10th Mountain Division’s brigade combat teams to transition to a new form of combat operations. Brigade combat teams were task-organized to provide a smaller, combat adviser-focused element known as the Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB). The initial train-up concluded with the deployment of the 1st SFAB, 10th Mountain Division, and 2nd SFAB, 10th Mountain Division, to Regional Command-East in January 2013 as the U.S. Army’s first SFAB units. The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th SFAB, and 3th SFAB also deployed to Regional Command-East in 2013.
In November 2012, in response to Hurricane Sandy, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers deployed to New York City and New Jersey, where they worked around the clock to support refueling operations throughout the impacted areas. Soldiers from 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team; 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team; and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade worked with New York City and New Jersey organizations, as well as National Guard units, to support relief efforts.
War on terrorism continues
In January 2014, the division headquarters and 10th Sustainment Brigade deployed once again to Afghanistan. On Feb. 6, 2014, the division headquarters, led by Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend and Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney R. Lewis, assumed command of Regional Command-East with the mission of advising and assisting the Afghanistan National Security Force (ANSF). The 10th Mountain Division (LI) brought 13 years of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) to a close and transitioned to Operation Resolute Support (RS) as its fifth deployment to Afghanistan ended in November 2014.
In February 2015, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Resolute Support Mission in the war in Afghanistan and returned to Fort Drum in March 2016. Between late summer and early fall 2015, 300 troops from 10th Mountain's headquarters deployed to Afghanistan under the command of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles W. Albertson in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, along with about 1,000 troops from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. In February 2016, the Taliban began a new assault on Sangin, Helmand Province. The U.S. responded by deploying the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division to Helmand Province in order to support the Afghan Army's 215th Corps in the province, particularly around Sangin, joining U.S. and British special operations forces already in the area.
In October 2015, “Six Shooters” from 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, became the fourth air cavalry squadron to deploy to South Korea on a nine-month rotational mission.
In April 2016, the 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, deployed to Iraq as Task Force Dragon, where it had personnel deployed across the entire U.S. Central Command area of operations: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Jordan. Task Force Dragon was the only aviation headquarters supporting the Combined Joint Forces Land Component in Iraq, and it operated across the entire country. In October 2016, Task Force Dragon AH-64Ds fired the first shots of the Mosul offensive and provided devastating and accurate fires in support of the Iraqi Army's assault and seizure of Mosul. In December 2016, Task Force Dragon returned to Fort Drum.
In August 2016, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) was called to support Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. During the nine months the brigade spent in Iraq, the country witnessed its most pivotal campaigns in the fight to regain control of the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah, and Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Warriors provided security force assistance teams to the Iraqi Army and Kurdish government in Erbil. Additionally, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment provided interagency security cooperation to the Department of State in Baghdad.
The 10th Mountain Division (LI) continues its mission to provide trained and combat-ready forces for rapid global deployment in order to prevent, shape, or win in ground combat. The 10th Mountain Division (LI) is the trained and combat ready force of choice for rapid deployment.
Climb to Glory!
The Wickham Charter
In October 1983, Army Chief of Staff Gen. John Wickham announced his decision to create light infantry divisions. In the 10 years since the American withdrawal from Vietnam, the general trend of U.S. Army force structure development had been toward heavy mechanized and armor forces. Gen. Wickham's decision represented a major change of direction for the Army. To overcome resistance to the new units, he and other Army leaders worked to generate a broad-based advocacy for light divisions.
Despite these efforts and the sound strategic rationale for this new initiative, the creation of light infantry divisions touched off a storm of protest. In a publication called White Paper 1984: Light Infantry Divisions, Gen. Wickham explained the strategic need for the new light forces. A key feature of these units was their strategic mobility; because of their streamlined size and composition, they could be transported aboard military aircraft to potential trouble spots. This deployability was to be attained by removing much heavy equipment, firepower, and support infrastructure from the light division while leaving it with a relatively large "slice" (50 percent) of combat troops.
He calculated that light infantry divisions would fill a void in American military capability. Light divisions could be moved more quickly and easily than could heavier forces. Moreover, light infantry units would be better suited for many crisis situations, such as counterinsurgency or other low intensity-type operations, than were tank or mechanized forces.
Gen. Wickham announced the creation of five light infantry divisions. Two of these – the 7th and the 25th Divisions – would come from the reorganization of existing active divisions. Two others – the 6th and the 10th Mountain – would be new divisions.
The general decided that the new 10th Mountain Division should be activated at Fort Drum, New York. The prospect of tens of millions of dollars being pumped into the depressed local economy earned the light division program strong congressional backing from the powerful New York delegation. In addition, U.S. Sen. Robert Dole had served as a member of the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. The Senate minority leader, a decorated officer who was seriously wounded in Italy, attended the division's activation ceremony and became a strong supporter of the division and Fort Drum.