The 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team cased its unit colors in a formal ceremony Tuesday at Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field. The Raider Brigade is heading for Afghanistan.
Soldiers with the brigade’s 5th Squadron, 7th U.S. Cavalry; 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery; and 1-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion will join fellow Raiders with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment already deployed and the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment in the process of deploying.
Brigade Commander Col. James R. Crider and Command Sgt. Maj. Herbert O. Kickover conducted the official colors casing with Col. John Hort, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear presiding.
Hort welcomed soldiers, family members and special guests attending the ceremony, including Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Gregory, Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Louis Felicioni and 3rd ID rear detachment Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Pegues.
Grinning, Hort told guests that when he first arrived at Stewart earlier this year, Pegues told him the winters in Coastal Georgia were mild and not to expect it to get cold until January.
He then joked that Tuesday morning’s chilling rain and high winds prompted him to seek out his command sergeant major to write him a counseling statement.
On a more serious note, Hort said it was appropriate that the Raider Brigade cased its colors on Election Day. The sacrifices of soldiers make it possible for all Americans to vote, he said.
“These soldiers standing right here are ready to carry on the mission. These men and women are poised to make history,” Hort said.
The colonel talked about the mission of each unit, noting that the cavalry unit’s scouts will work directly with Afghanistan forces in providing security. The field-artillery unit will be supporting security with the new M777 155mm Howitzer, he said.
Raider troops will be joined by a cavalry squadron from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and they will work with two battalions from the Romanian army, he said.
While commending the Raiders’ “phenomenal versatility,” Hort reminded everyone this would be the brigade’s sixth deployment in the past 11 years.
Crider thanked his soldiers and their family members for their support and sacrifices.
“Strong Army families don’t feel sorry for themselves,” he added. “They support each other.”
After the ceremony, Crider elaborated on their mission. He said the 3/69th Armor soldiers already deploying will join 2/7th Inf. soldiers conducting village stability operations. The Courier reported on their training for this mission in April.
Crider said most of his soldiers will conduct security-force assistance operations. He admitted there have been several instances in recent months in which allied forces were attacked by those forces they were training.
He said his soldiers would conduct training with what he called the “Guardian Angel” concept. He explained that while one soldier is occupied training a group of Afghan soldiers or security police, another soldier will stand back and watch, keeping security for the other soldier.
“I believe what we’ve got to do is get closer to our (Afghan) partners,” he said. “We’ve got to build trust. What a lot of people don’t realize is they’re a bigger target than we are.”
Crider said the Hinesville community should be proud to know that shortly after all his troops deploy, the 3rd ID patch will be seen from one corner of Afghanistan to another.
He said most of 1st ABCT troops will come under Regional Command South, commanded by 3rd ID commander Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams.