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4th IBCT colors cased, troops ready
Members of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team participate in a color-casing ceremony Friday on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field. - photo by Photo by Charlotte Marten

Members of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team stood tall Friday morning on Cottrell Field to watch as the brigade’s flag was furled and covered with a protective canvas bag. Temperatures hovered around 90 degrees.

Brigade Commander Col. Lou Lartigue reminded everyone in attendance that the color casing marked the final step in the
brigade’s preparation for its upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This overseas deployment will differ from the 4th IBCT’s previous missions. Since its last rotation, the unit transitioned from a heavy brigade to a light brigade. Lartigue said the troops will function in an "advise and assist" position, working closely with their Iraqi counterparts.

Color casing is an Army tradition that symbolizes the movement of a division to a new theater of operation.

The 4th IBCT will be deployed for about 12 months to the Al Anbar Province in central Iraq. The combat team deployed its first 150 soldiers to Iraq on Saturday. Lartigue leaves July 5.

"We have converted our mindset to a leaner capable force to qualify to assist our Iraqi partners," the commander said. "We’ve turned in all our tanks and Bradleys and heavy equipment. We are mostly a dismounted formation with some real vehicles but outfitted, trained and equipped for light missions."

He said this particular rotation will be unique. "We will be the last ones out and we are ready for the mission ahead … This deployment is not just another turn. It’s our turn," Lartigue said.

Katie Moran, 25, an Army spouse, said she and her 2-year-old daughter are sad to see Moran’s husband leave for Iraq again. "I am very nervous this time, but I am always proud of my husband," she said.

Lartigue said he is extremely proud to be the brigade commander. The troops’ accomplishments, he said, would not be possible without the support of their families. "Soldiers focus on their mission knowing that their families are safe and cared for," he said.

The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will replace the 1st Brigade 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

"We have trained long and hard to deploy and we are ready to close the deal," Lartigue said. "We do this for our country and for our children’s future."

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