The "Spartan Brigade," the only airborne infantry brigade in the Pacific Theatre, was activated at Fort Richardson in 2005 with Col. Michael Garrett as its commanding officer.
Garrett took the brigade to its first deployment in Iraq in 2006 -- a 12-month deployment extended for three months when the brigade became an important component of the "surge" of U.S. troops there. One battalion served with Marines in the intense combat zone around Fallujah, while others mainly operated south of Baghdad. The brigade suffered its highest loses of any subsequent deployment -- the deaths of 53 soldiers.
After just a brief respite back in Anchorage -- 14 months -- the brigade in 2009 made its first deployment to Afghanistan in the restive Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces. It lost 13 soldiers in that deployment, not counting Pfc Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years. The brigade returned to Afghanistan in 2011.
The brigade currently consists of six battalions: 1-501st Infantry Regiment; 3-509th Infantry Regiment; 1-40th Cavalry Regiment; 2-377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment; 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion; and the 725th Support Battalion.