The Vanguard Brigade is slated to begin the process of transforming from a heavy brigade combat team to an infantry brigade combat team after the brigade's official change of command ceremony set for March 19.
This transformation means the brigade will transition from being a heavy brigade, equipped with armor and mechanized infantry, to a different composition centered on light infantry.
"What it means for me in going light is no (M1 Abrams) tanks," said Col. Thomas James, 4th BCT commander. "You no longer have that heavy equipment, those heavy vehicles, and you're more light infantry focused, and you will have vehicles to be able to get to the fight but you won't have tanks and (M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles)."
By shedding the brigade's heavily armored Abrams tanks and Bradleys, the brigade will be given the capability to be more agile if under restraining and restrictive terrain and weather.
"It's a more versatile unit that can go places that tanks and Bradleys might not necessarily be able to go to," James said. "It is an organization that will serve the Army well and is needed especially as we look to full spectrum operations; when we start thinking of counter-insurgency and needing more Soldiers and more infantrymen on the ground."
Though transitioning, most of the battalions within the brigade will have the same training with slightly different equipment.
"The biggest difference within the brigade is (4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment), becoming (3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment), resulting in the loss of four companies of tanks and replacing them essentially with four companies of infantrymen," said Maj. Clint Cunningham, future operations officer for 4th BCT.
Prior to transitioning to an infantry brigade combat team, the Vanguard Brigade will start a game plan on how to successfully transition from heavy to light and review events from the recent deployment to assess it.
While deployed, the brigade focus was creating a safe environment for the local population in the Babil Province.
"The main focus was to secure the population, to defeat extremists and to increase the professionalization of the Iraqi Security Forces to allow a secure environment for government and economics to grow," James said. "And what's exciting about the rotation is that we saw a marked improvement from day one when we arrived until when we departed."
While in Iraq, soldiers throughout the Vanguard Brigade worked more than 14 months to help provide a secure and stable environment.
"We did several collective operations in partnership with the Iraqi security forces, and we were able to essentially defeat extremists in Babil Province," James said. "We were able to defeat the enemy and then occupy patrol bases and joint security stations with the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army to create a secure environment for the population."