172d Stryker Brigade Combat Team Commander & CSM IRAQ
This coin was awarded by the Commander (COL Michael Shields) & CSM (CSM William Ulibarri), 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 'Arctic Wolves', during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) between August 2005 and November 2006--longest combat deployment for Alaska soldiers since the Vietnam War.
The brigade's tour was to have ended on 27 July 2006, but the U.S. Army unexpectedly extended the deployment until the end of November 2006. During the extension, the unit was sent to Baghdad to quell growing sectarian violence concerns. The infamous extension of the deployment had happened after some of the units of the Brigade were already touched down at their home base of Fort Wainwright, AK, forcing them to fly back to staging areas in Iraq.
In Iraq, the “Arctic Wolves” earned distinction as they took on what Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey called “the toughest challenge of any unit in Iraq,” including a four-month extension.