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Col. John Haas - Commander, 53rd IBCT
Command Sgt. Maj. Virgil Robinson - CSM, 53rd IBCT

Year in Review - 2016

The 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) had an outstanding year supporting the state and nation. The 53rd IBCT’s mission for the state of Florida is to conduct Defense Support of Civil Authorities in response to civil disturbances, disasters and other events as directed. The federal mission is to mobilize, conduct post-mobilization training, and deploy and conduct combat operations. This past year the brigade executed four deployment events, two in support of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, and two in support of U.S. Southern Command - Regionally Aligned Forces and Operation Tradewinds, and was the state’s main effort during Hurricane Matthew response with over 1,900 Soldiers mobilized.

Over the past year, the 53rd IBCT focused on supporting decentralized operations across multiple continents and combatant commands. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 53rd IBCT, specifically supported Operation Tradewinds 2016 by deploying to Grenada to train with the Royal Grenada Police Force and Regional Security System forces on stability operations, advanced rifle marksmanship, and close quarters combat.

Beginning in June 2015, 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 124th Infantry Regiment, along with Alpha and Bravo Troops of 1st Squadron,153rd Cavalry Regiment began back-to-back, nine-month rotations to Djibouti in support of United States Africa Command’s mission with the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. The units performed Security Force Operations in three enduring sites in two countries, conducted Tactical Security Engagements with partner countries, conducted Security Force Assistance training with multiple African militaries, and executed command and control of the East African Response Force in support of the State Department in 17 East African countries.

Elements from the 1-153rd Cavalry Regiment, provided significant contributions to both major missions executed by the 53rd IBCT in Africa and South America, to include two troop deployments and many key leader positions. The 2nd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment (FAR), had the distinct honor of having both the Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer for the Best Warrior State Competition selected from their Bravo Battery. Staff Sgt. Travis Ugarte and Spc. Manuel Vallejo both won the state competition and went to regionals where Ugarte won and advanced to the national competition, eventually placing fifth. Additionally, the 2-116th FAR supported the Regionally Aligned Forces mission in Central America with approximately 30 personnel, and conducted two Artillery Live Fire Exercises.

The 53rd Brigade Support Battalion executed its annual training at the Sustainment Training Center Camp Dodge, Iowa, where it conducted collective training on mission essential tasks at the platoon and company levels. This training afforded Soldiers, both officer and enlisted, a better understanding of the principals and tenants of sustainment. The 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion (BSTB) provided command and control of the Regionally Aligned Forces mission to South America where it conducted Counter Transnational Organized Crime training in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in order to improve partner nation capabilities and strengthen regional security. In addition, Bravo Company, 53rd BSTB conducted its annual training exercise as part of “Panther Strike” at Camp Williams, Utah, where Soldiers performed individual and collective training for evaluation of various intelligence disciplines.