History Of The 5th Battalion,
The 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment ("Sykes' Regulars") was redesignated on 16 August 1986 as Headquarters and Headquarter Company 5 Battalion 20 Infantry (Mechanized) assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. From 1986 to 1995 the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry (Mechanized) were responsible for conducting patrol missions along the DMZ in Korea during the Cold War. Once the Cold War ended the battalion was pulled off of their permanent position along the most heavily defended frontier in the world, and was tasked into conducting stability and support operations (SASO) throughout the South Korean Peninsula. With the Cold War over the US Army then turned its attention toward the next plausible region of instability; the Middle East.
The Army’s evaluation of Desert Storm and operations in the Balkans recognized the need for a rapidly deployable organization that could fill the operational gap between initially deployed light forces, which lack staying power, and the slower deploying heavy armored forces. The Army’s answer came to be called at first the Interim Brigade Combat Team; however, today these IBCTs are now proudly called Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs). A SBCT is an infantry brigade mounted on some three hundred Stryker vehicles. This designation was a direct result of the Army’s concept of a medium weight, rapid deployable unit that was designed to project power with a sustainable fighting force. A Stryker is a 19-ton wheeled armored vehicle that is mounted in eleven different configurations with significant upgrades in firepower. Capable of being transported in a C-130 aircraft this new weapon is the future of the modular Army. The transformation began in 1999 with the conversion of the 3rd BDE, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, WA to the Army’s first Stryker Brigade. As part of the reorganization, the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, who at that time was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, was hand-picked to lead the transformation process. Thus, the unit was reassigned from the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. As a result of the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment’s outstanding results in their transformation into a Stryker battalion on 01 February 2001, the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry was awarded the Army Superior Unit Award for leading this transformation; the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry has led the way for the Army of the future.
Sykes Regulars have continued their strong tradition of protecting the United States by deploying twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment deployed to Iraq (OIF 03-04) from November of 2003 to October of 2004 with seven brother battalions, the 1st Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion 3rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Battalion 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 296th Brigade Support Battalion and the 276th Engineer Battalion. Also fighting alongside Sykes Regulars were the 18th Engineer Company, Headquarters and Headquarter Company 3rd BDE, 2nd DIV, 209th Military Intelligence Company, 334th Signal Company, Company C, 52 Infantry Regiment, 1060th Tactical Psyops Detachment and 1290th Tactical Psyops Detachment with the Infantrymen from the 5th Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment, where the first soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division to enter combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 15 December 2003 the Battalion then rolled through the City of Samarra at intervals throughout the day.
Soldiers of Charlie Company, 5th Battalion 20th Infantry took part in Operation Sykes Hammer and patrolled the streets of Tal Afar, August 2004. They worked with the Iraq National Guard in executing Cordon and Search Operations in the neighborhoods of Tal Afar, which was successful in detained personnel, weapons and propaganda materials. In one year, the battalion operated in a larger area than what they had expected prior to coming to Iraq. The 3rd Brigade as a whole where called on to support major operations when violence heated up in Al Kut, Tal Afar and Najaf. In each of these cases, a battalion of Stryker soldiers packed up and moved within 24 to 72 hours, reacting quickly and accomplishing their missions decisively.
After coming home and going through their second reset the infantrymen of 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment got called upon again to support OIF and deployed with the 3rd BDE, 2nd Infantry Division from June of 2006 to October of 2007.
Sykes Regulars deployed from Ft. Lewis, WA to Camp Buerhing, Kuwait. While at Camp Buerhing Charlie Company was detached to 1-14 CAV. Task Force 1-14 later deployed from Camp Buerhing to Baghdad, Iraq where they spent the deployment bringing stability and security to the capital city. The rest of the Regulars deployed from Camp Buerhing to Mosul, Iraq relieving the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment (Buffaloes) of the 172nd Infantry Brigade (SBCT). While in Mosul, Task Force 5-20 Infantry was responsible for western Mosul, Hammam Al-Alil, and the rural area west of Mosul. While in Mosul Bronco Troop, 1-14 CAV became task organized to 5-20 Infantry in Kuwait in exchange for Charlie Company. In November of 2006 the Regulars received orders to move from Mosul to Baghdad. In late November 2006, TF 5-20 Infantry conducted a Ground Assault Convoy from Mosul to Taji, Iraq.
Immediately upon arriving to Taji, the TF 5-20 Infantry launched into al-Anbar province to conduct search and rescue operations in support of a downed aircraft. TF 5-20 Infantry returned to Baghdad and began extensive operations throughout MND-B under 3-2 SBCT, 2-2 IBCT, and other MND-B maneuver forces. During Operation Arrowhead Strike, TF 5-20 Infantry worked with the units from 2-2 IBCT, marking the first time since the Korean War that two brigades from the 2nd Infantry Division operated jointly in combat operations.
In March 2007, the Regulars moved to FOB Warhorse located within the volatile Diyala Province in support of Operation Orange Justice. During this operation, TF 5-20 Infantry, working under 3-1 CAV BDE, grew to include Apache and Bone Companies 1-12 CAV. This Task Force encountered their toughest fight in Baqubah as they cleared terrorist from al-Qaeda’s self-declared capital of the Islamic State of Iraq. In the process, TF 5-20 Infantry liberated the people of Burhiz and Tahrir; thus, winning the support of significant local leaders, and beginning to earn a cooperative effort responsible for the overall success in Baqubah.
In June of 2007, 3-2 SBCT, with 5-20 Infantry leading the way conducted a RIP/TOA (Relief in Place / Transfer of Authority) with 3-1 HBCT and assumed responsibility for Baqubah. This change in leadership lead to Operation Arrowhead Ripper, during which through close fighting and the expert employment of joint fire power, TF 5-20 Infantry was successful in killing and routing al-Qaeda from Baqubah. During this time the Regulars, in addition to their combat duties, conducted humanitarian missions to help the citizens of Baqubah. Simultaneously while conducting humanitarian aid to the citizens of Baqubah, the TF 5-20 Infantry also where conducting SASO to promote the confidence and proficiency of the Iraqi Security Forces stationed in the area.
After a long a hard fought campaign the Regulars of 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment returned home over the span of 3 months beginning in August of 2007. The last Regular returned to Fort Lewis on 7 November 2007. The Regulars perseverance and warrior skills used in Iraq have made them a topic of conversation across the spectrum of the entire United States Military.
Currently the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment is lead by Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell L. Rambin of the great state of Louisiana.
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