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4th IBCT commander Lartigue passes the torch to Gallahue
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3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Abe Abrams, right, introduces outgoing 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Lou Lartigue, center, and incoming 4th IBCT Commander Col. Kimo Gallahue, left, during a change of command Thursday on Cottrell Field. - photo by Denise Etheridge

4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Lou Lartigue, the first armored officer to command an infantry brigade in the Army’s modular era, passed command Thursday to Col. Kimo Gallahue on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field.

The 4th Brigade transformed from heavy armor to light infantry in March 2009, just days after Lartigue took command, 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams said.

“(The transition) required a cultural change and a mindset change,” Abrams said.

The Vanguard Brigade was activated May 26, 2004; it was the first new brigade formed under the Army’s modularity transformation initiative, according to 4th IBCT public affairs. The brigade deployed three times to Iraq — as a heavy armor brigade in 2005 and again in 2007, and as a light infantry brigade in July 2010. After redeploying to Fort Stewart this summer, the 4th Brigade moved into its new $306 million complex off Highway 144 on Fort Stewart.

The 4th IBCT was responsible for advising and assisting Iraqi security forces in all of Al Anbar Province during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, according to Abrams. Al Anbar Province covers 53,000 square miles and contains two cities infamous for violence, Fallujah and Ramadi, the general said He added that the province is bordered by the strategic countries of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

“Col. Lartigue was out front,” Abrams said, referring to the colonel’s and brigade’s success in gaining the Iraqis’ trust and forming solid relationships with them. The general said the 4th IBCT set the standard for “advising, training and assisting.”

“Our mission was to partner with and strengthen Iraqi security forces,” Lartigue said. “I am proud to report we accomplished that mission.”

The colonel insisted he played a small part in the 4th Brigade’s success during his 30 months of command, preferring to praise his troops.

“You didn’t just get the job done, you did it above the standard and with pride in service,” he said.

One such indicator of the brigade’s lasting, positive impact on its Iraqi counterpart, Abrams said, was when Iraqi security forces kept order, allowing their countrymen to peacefully protest government corruption.

“That more than anything gives us hope for the future,” Abrams said.

Lartigue’s next assignment is as chief of staff at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, according to Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.

Lartigue compared passing command to Gallahue like the change-out of “a winning head coach.”

“I’ve attended many changes of command over the years,” Gallahue said after receiving the brigade colors. “This one is by far my favorite.”

Gallahue’s last assignment was at the U.S. Army War College, Larson said. He enlisted in the Army in 1983 and was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., through the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in 1986. The colonel was commissioned in 1990.

Gallahue was deployed from January 2009-January 2010 to Wardak Province, Afghanistan. He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y. Gallahue’s former battle buddy, Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Corcoran, watched his former commander’s recent change-of-command ceremony from his wheelchair. Corcoran, who had served with Gallahue as an operations and battalion sergeant major, seriously was wounded in 2009 in Afghanistan.

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