The 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team was officially inactivated in a formal ceremony Thursday morning at Club Stewart.
Spartan Commander Col. Scott Jackson and Command Sgt. Maj. Stanley Varner cased the unit’s colors under the direction of Marne Force Commander Brig. Gen. James Blackburn.
Since taking command of the brigade in July 2013, Jackson has worked under a Department of the Army mandate to inactivate the brigade as part of the Department of Defense’s effort to downsize the Army. The task included transferring 52,000 pieces of equipment valued at $1.2 billion and finding new homes for more than 3,800 soldiers.
In October, the Spartans officially transferred two of its battalions to other 3rdID brigades. The 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment was reorganized as part of the 4thInfantry Brigade Combat Team, and the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment was reorganized as part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team.
Two artillery batteries, an engineer company and other support units, as well as individual Spartan soldiers, continued to be moved to other units within the division. On Thursday, only a few hundred 2ndABCT soldiers were left.
After recognizing the service of commanders and their spouses with military and civilian awards, the first order of business Thursday was the official deactivation of the four remaining battalions that will not be reorganized as part of other Marne Division units.
These units included the 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment; 2-3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion and 26th Brigade Support Battalion.
“Today’s ceremony does not represent a disbandment of the Spartan Brigade,” Blackburn said. “The Spartan Brigade has gone through a number of changes in its history… Since the brigade was constituted and organized in 1917, it has been reorganized and re-designated three times. (It has been) disbanded, reconstituted, reactivated, inactivated, activated and inactivated again today.”
Blackburn noted the Spartans’ colors will be reactivated again in June when the 3rdID’s 4thIBCT is re-designated as the 2ndIBCT. He thanked the Spartan Brigade leaders and soldiers for their tireless efforts to accomplish the mission and asked those attending the ceremony to remember the more than 800 Marne Division soldiers currently deployed and the 468 soldiers memorialized at Warriors Walk.
“These soldiers serve as a constant reminder of a determined enemy seeking to do harm to our nation,” he said.
Jackson began his remarks by saying Thursday was not a bad day or even a sad day, despite his personal feelings. He called it a “milestone in the evolution” of the brigade’s proud history. He grinned as he alluded to the same comments just made by Blackburn, jokingly adding that he said it first.
“In the service, you don’t get to pick your mission,” Jackson said, now being serious. “You don’t get to bid on a job. You don’t get to pick and choose. Your country simply tells you what needs to be done and expects you to execute it.”
He said some units’ commanders might make excuses why the mission can or cannot be done and how long it’ll take. However, in professional organizations, he said, leaders accept the task, set an azimuth then step out to accomplish the mission. Spartan leaders and soldiers were professionals who did what they were asked to do.
“The worst thing about today is that represents the end of my days of commanding troops,” said Jackson, who next week will become military advisor to the U.S. Senate. “Professionally, I know it’s a good thing. I know the Army makes the right decisions.”
Jackson began his military career as an infantry officer in 1990 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. A South Carolina native, Jackson and his wife, Valerie, have two sons.