Thursday, April 21, 2016

Museum Director Visits Kuwait as 1st Infantry Division Provides Deterrence in Middle East

by Paul Herbert, Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny

This is Sergeant Christopher Shouse, commander of a Bradley M-2A3 infantry fighting vehicle in A Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. He is one of the 3,000 soldiers currently serving with the 1st Infantry Division in Kuwait. As a Bradley commander, SGT Shouse is an expert on his vehicle and its capabilities.

Last week, I visited the 1st Infantry Division’s 2d Armored Brigade Combat Team (“2ABCT”) in Kuwait, one of America’s important strategic outposts. These 3,000 soldiers operate from Camp Buehring, an austere 9-or-so square mile patch of temporary buildings west of Kuwait City where there is literally nothing except desert and camels. All that desert makes excellent firing ranges and maneuver grounds that are in constant use. 

Such visible readiness helps deter any military threat or intimidation against Kuwait and, by extension, Saudi Arabia and other important US partners. The 2ABCT is also an immediate reaction force in the event of a crisis. The brigade’s primary mission, however, is military assistance to American partners within the US Central Command’s vast area of responsibility, stretching from Northeast Africa to South and Central Asia. 2 ABCT troops have aided the Iraqi fight against ISIS. They are in Jordan training the armed forces of that important state. They have been in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. They work closely with the armed forces of their host country, Kuwait. From a pier at the Kuwaiti naval base in Kuwait City (one of many critical facilities secured in part by 2ABCT troops), I watched an endless string of oil tankers head down the Persian Gulf to energy consumers around the world and thought of the criticality of this volatile region. 

Sectarian and ethnic strife, struggles with modernity, autocracy, ancient rivalries, extremism, terror, weapons of mass destruction – these and more threaten the peace and stability of the region and its people daily. Helping mitigate such malign influences are these great troops. I went there to teach them some of their division’s important 99-year history, from World War I to the present. None of them seemed to think that their work is as important as those past conflicts, but I assured them that it is – and that we here at home are proud of them and grateful to them.

Just this morning, I turned on the news to hear President Obama explain our challenges and strategies in this region. I thought all the activities shared by the President are being carried out by these great service members.

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