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Fort Stewart-based 'Raiders' brigade welcomes new command team
Brig. Gen. James Blackburn, the Task Force Marne commander (foreground, from left); incoming 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team commander Col. Winston P. Brooks; and 1st ABCT commander Col. Robert Ashe stand at attention during a change-of-command ceremony on Fort Stewart's Cottrell Field on Thursday. Command Sgt. Maj. William A. Wafe Jr., the other incoming 1st ABCT commander, is partially visible behind Ashe. - photo by Staff Sgt. Syreetta Watts

The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team said farewell to Col. Robert P. Ashe and Command Sgt. Maj. Russell K. Reimers while welcoming the new command team of Col. Winston P. Brooks and Command Sgt. Maj. William A. Wafe Jr. during a change-of-command ceremony Thursday on Fort Stewart. 

Ashe, a native of Albany, led the 1st ABCT, aka the “Raiders,” through gunnery and situational training exercises that prepared the brigade for a Combat Training Center rotation at the National Training Center in August 2014. 

Most recently, as the Regionally Aligned Force for Europe, the Raiders returned in July from a three-month rotation in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, demonstrating continued U.S. commitment to NATO allies during times of increased tensions in Eastern Europe. 

“All you need to know about the Raider Brigade is that before you stands the most well-trained and experienced heavy-brigade combat team in our Army,” Ashe said during the ceremony on Cottrell Field. “They’ve been there and they’ve done it all, and when the call comes, they’ll be ready to do it again.”

Brooks, a Fayetteville, Tennessee, native, takes command as the brigade prepares for a second rotation to Europe this fall, during which Raider soldiers will be spread out among nine countries. 

Brooks said he understands the responsibilities placed on him and the challenge of continuing the success and momentum Ashe created. 

“Those of us who serve today remember those before us, who built the legacy on which we stand,” Brooks said. “It is our commitment to preserve this legacy and the distinctive privilege of Team Brooks and Wafe now to serve alongside you.”

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