Less than a year after playing a key role in the fight against the Islamic State, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division will soon assume the mission as the nation’s ready force, capable of deploying anywhere in the world on short notice.
But first, the brigade welcomed a new leader Wednesday, as Col. J. Patrick Work relinquished command of the Falcon Brigade to Col. Jason A. Curl.
Curl, a native of Wellsville, New York, marked a return to Fort Bragg during the ceremony — he previously served with the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division.
Now he’s entrusted with a unit that Maj. Gen. Erik Kurilla said is one of the Army’s best. Kurilla, the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, hosted the change of command at Pike Field.
He noted the leadership change came 74 years to the day after soldiers from the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, the World War II predecessor of the 2nd Brigade’s 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, landed at Normandy, France, amid the D-Day invasion.
Those soldiers fought Nazi forces for a month, Kurilla said. And in the decades since, they’ve developed a reputation as being among the first military forces involved in the nation’s conflicts.
“This brigade has served as the American spearhead for combat action in Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Kurilla said.
Most recently, the brigade played a key role in battling ISIS during a deployment that stretched from December 2016 to September 2017.
Approximately 2,000 paratroopers from the brigade served in Iraq and Syria during that span, supporting the liberation of Mosul and Tal Afar in Iraq and serving as a link between local partners and American firepower and support as ISIS control dwindled under the combined pressure of a U.S.-led coalition and its partners in Iraq and Syria.
Kurilla said the brigade has been heralded for that mission, which led to the defeat of ISIS’s so-called caliphate in Iraq.
“I would argue that the Falcon Brigade did more to defeat ISIS than any unit in the Army,” he said.
Kurilla praised Work for leading those efforts and the brigade for the past two years. He also thanked Work’s wife, Mara, and his children, JP and Sally Ann.
Work, too, thanked his family, and told the thousands of paratroopers gathered on Pike Field that he was immensely proud of them and honored to have served alongside them.
The paratroopers are a “national treasure unmatched by anything on this Earth,” he said.
Work, a Michigan native, will next serve as executive officer to the chief of staff of the Army, a position typically reserved for the Army’s top-ranked colonel.
Curl most recently served as an instructor at the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Now, he’ll lead the brigade as it assumes the Global Response Force mission, which charges part of the 82nd Airborne Division to be ready to deploy within hours for combat, humanitarian relief and other emergency missions.
“He has a broad range of tactical and operational experience in the airborne community and is considered one of the generation’s finest leaders,” Kurilla said. “There is no question he is the right leader to take this team into the Global Response Force mission.”
Curl was joined Wednesday by his wife, Rebecca, and their three children, Adrienne, Alexander and Allison.
He thanked them for their love and support and told the paratroopers in formation that he was honored and humbled to join their ranks.
“I’ve been tracking your accomplishments… and I’m extremely impressed,” Curl said. “The road ahead definitely will not be easy, but you and I will navigate it together and we will be successful.”
The 2nd Brigade’s history dates back 101 years, Kurilla said. The 325th Infantry Regiment was the first regiment assigned to what was then the 82nd Infantry Division ahead of World War I.
And despite its long history, the unit is the best it’s ever been, the general said, as he challenged Curl to live up to that excellence.
“Jason, you’ve been greatly blessed in this life. Before you is a bounty rich in talent, experience and warrior spirit,” Kurilla said. “These men and women before you are the nation’s best.”
“As the good book says, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” Kurilla added. “We expect the kind of greatness out of the Falcon Brigade that we’ve observed the past two years. I know you will succeed.”
Military editor Drew Brooks can be reached at [email protected] or 486-3567.
© 2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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