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The 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is a modular Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Louisiana Army National Guard. Although it is headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana, it often makes use of Camp Beauregard's training and lodging facilities.
Three elements of the 256th Infantry Brigade: the 156th Infantry Regiment; the 108th Cavalry Regiment; and the 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment, the "Washington Artillery" of New Orleans, trace their history back to the American Civil War where they fought mainly in the eastern theater under Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. In September 1838, the Washington Artillery of New Orleans was founded. Its emblem was an irate tiger over crossed cannons, with the motto "Try Us" created by James B. Walton in 1846. During the Civil War, most units were referred to as "Lee's Tigers" or Louisiana Tigers and became the mascot for the Louisiana State University, also known as the "Old War Skule".
Operation Iraqi Freedom III, 2004-2005
During train up for operations in the spring, summer and fall of 2004, the 256th Infantry Brigade was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. The Brigade has previously completed a NTC rotation at Fort Irwin, California in 2001. Upon deployment, the unit flew from England Air Park in Alexandria, Louisiana to Bangor, Maine then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and finally to Kuwait City, Kuwait. The brigade spent another month training in the desert of Camp Buehring, Kuwait prior to moving into Iraq.
In 2004-2005 the 256th Brigade was sent to Iraq as part of OIF III (Operation Iraqi Freedom III, the third U.S. military rotation of forces into the area of operations). It served under the 1st Cavalry Division for its first five months and its last several months under the 3rd Infantry Division. During the first half of its combat tour in Iraq some of the brigade's subordinate units also served under the10th Mountain Division. The brigade served in and around Baghdad, Iraq in a FOB known originally as FOB Victory until 15 June 2004. At this date FOB Victory's name was changed to FOB Liberty because on this date the Iraqi government officially "stood up". Upon the 256th's arrival at North Liberty it became Camp Tigerland. During operations in theater the brigade operated under the configuration of one-third heavy and two-thirds light.
Each battalion in the brigade had one company of heavy forces with M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks, M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, or a mixture of the two. The other two thirds operated primarily from HMMMV Gun Trucks that mounted either machine guns or automatic grenade launchers. The field artillery battalion was cannibalized to bring the infantry battalions up to full strength. The remainder of the Washington Artillery was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) under the command of the 103rd Field Artillery Brigade and the XVIII Airborne Corps. One howitzer platoon from the Washington Artillery was used to provide indirect fires in support of FOB Liberty. Additionally, Task Force Bengal was "stood up" as a liaison/training team to equip, train and assist the 40th Iraqi National Guard (ING) Brigade. TF Bengal consisted of soldiers and officers of the infantry, field artillery, and engineer units from the 256th Brigade as well as the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry (The Fighting 69th) from New York City which had been attached for the deployment. Attached to the 69th Infantry was Delta 101, a company of Tankers and Scouts turned Infantrymen from New York's 101st Cavalry Regiment. During the Civil War, the 69th engaged the ancestral units of the 256th many times, so their attachment to each other for OIF provided a symbolic reconciliation 140 years after they fought each other to the death repeatedly from 1861 to 1865. On February 21, 2005, the 40th ING Brigade assumed authority for approximately 16 square kilometers in and around Al Akadhimian and began patrolling with Approximately 2800 soldiers.
The 256th lost 32 soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2005
The 256th Infantry Brigade was sent to New Orleans to aid Law Enforcement and help with the rescue efforts during hurricane Katrina. Following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 256th Infantry Brigade was then tasked with the mission of aiding the New Orleans Police Department (also being assisted by the Louisiana State Police) in combating the rise of looting and other crime and the loss of law enforcement officers in the New Orleans Police Department.
The 256th Brigade had just returned from Iraq in August and September 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita struck the gulf coast. In fact, many personnel were still in Iraq or on the way back to the state. The Brigade was activated for state duty immediately following its release from active duty and used for security, rescue, and reconstruction work throughout all of South Louisiana. Much of the Brigade remained on duty for almost 5 months after returning from Iraq. The Louisiana National Guard still has an active duty presence in New Orleans to assist the police forces (as of Jan 08).