Col. James R. Blackburn

Redeployment Remarks to Dragoon Troops of 2D Stryker Cavalry

24 April 2011, Forward Operation Base Apache, Qalat, Zabul Province, Afghanistan

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

You are about to enter the highest risk period in our forces. In the United States Army we lose more forces, again, when we're in transition from point A, combat, to point B, something that's not combat, than we actually do in the face of the enemy.

And then...think how awful that is to lose that wingman, your comrade, your brother in arms, your battle buddy: When there's no enemy apparent, the enemy is us.

Whatever's on your heart, what's-ever on your mind, whatever may be troubling you on today, ten days from now, or twenty days from now, or a month when you're back in Vilseck, right -- whatever's on your mind there's already somebody in this formation that has that scar tissue, somebody that can help you deal with what whatever it is.

There's nothing more important than keeping you so you can celebrate your victories that you had here; so you can demonstrate that success you've had in Afghanistan  to your families back in the United States of America, because you certainly have furthered your national security objectives right here, very self[lessly], for American taxpayers.

You've done a phenomenal job.

But beware: The risks increase as you go to your next point. Whatever's on your heart, whatever's in your mind, somebody in this regiment already has that scar tissue. Somebody in this regiment, some dragoon, is there to help you, to walk you through whatever that is. Nothing you do in this regiment, you have to do alone. There's somebody to help you through whatever it is that may be troubling you.

Take that pride home to your families. Take that pride home to the town you came from, so others may emulate what you have become -- because you all have become American heroes. Thank you very much, [unclear at 1:39]

Sergeant-Major Morris and I aren't here just here for a three-year tour. We are interested in dragoons for life, for-ever. You have a distinct part of this unit's history by the actions that you conducted on the battlefield here in Zabul. Be proud of that. Be proud as Americans because you're the top 1% of our civilization, the top 1% that raised your hand for when this time of war.

You knew what was about to happen and yet you still chose to defend your nation while at war.

There's nothing more important, nothing more important in my mind than to say thank you; nothing more important in your mind than to be proud of those accomplishments. And use that pride, channel that pride to help you get through this dangerous period.

You are the definition of the "American Hero" because you raised your hand in time of war and exposed yourself to conflict for the betterment of your own nation. So, as an American, thank you very much. And as your commander in this great regiment, thank you for the great things you've done here, 'cause you've done some phenomenal things while you've been here....

And God you get back to Germany and you're in reintegration and even more temptation -- your mind might stray. I want to tell you and warn you that there's temptations out there, and there's things that will trip you unless you keep focused, alright? We lose more soldiers in the United States Army in the transition period than we do in direct contact with the enemy.

What you have been through here and stayed alive through and all that you've done in the company, as as platoons and squads, think of what you've been through, and what it would feel like if you lost one of your own out of combat.

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Page Updated: 2/5/24

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