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Col. Bertolini '86 Commanding Key Army Unit

This summer, as U.S. combat advisers from the Army’s 162nd Infantry Brigade began returning from their respective employments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington and Lee alumnus Mark Bertolini, of the Class of 1986, the brigade’s commander, was on hand to greet them at Ft. Polk, La. (See the photo.)

Col. Bertolini took over command of the 162d ITB in May 2009. Its mission is to train Foreign Security Force Transition Teams that embed as combat advisers with forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although every war since World War II has used combat advisers, the program — and the 162nd — was deactivated in 1965. They brought back to life under Mark’s command.

In an article in the Fort Polk Guardian when the first Iraq advisers returns, Mark provided some context to the work: “This marks a distinct historical moment in the history of the brigade. We’ve trained about 1,300 combat advisers in the past year, and these are the first seven to come back. Every two weeks, we receive a new class, they get through the training in 60 days, and now we expect to see redeployments each week.”

Mark was commissioned as an armor officer when he graduated from W&L with a politics major. He received his master’s degree from Indiana University in 1998. Prior to assuming control of the 162nd, he was as the Armor Branch Chief, US Army Human Resources Command. From July 2004 to June 2007, he commanded 3-67 Armor Battalion, “Hounds of Hell,” and deployed his battalion to Iraq and conducted combat operations in east Baghdad and Sadr City. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), and Army Commendation Medal, among many others. Mark’s complete bio is on the Fort Polk website.

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