With an eye toward possible adversaries in Russia and China, the Army in December ordered Fort Stewart’s 2nd Brigade to convert from infantry to tanks.
Friday marked the latest step in that journey, as the unit officially became the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat team during a ceremony at Marne Gardens.
For 2nd ABCT Commander Col. James Dooghan and the more than 4,000 soldiers under his command, the conversion from infantry to armor is another milestone in the 3rd Infantry Division’s 100-year history.
During remarks at Friday’s ceremony, Dooghan referenced his brigade’s birth "on the French battlefields of World War I" and its more recent "Thunder Run" in Iraq in 2003 that "liberated the people of Iraq." But the brigade’s youthful commander said the world is changing and "the overmatch the U.S. Army has enjoyed for the last 70 years is closing quickly across all domains of warfare."
That’s why the Army tabbed the Spartan Brigade to become its 15th ABCT, Dooghan said.
"The battlefield of tomorrow will be more lethal than our generation has experienced, and the Army must change with that in mind. To ensure overmatch, the Army must modernize, train and structure the force to build land-power capability against near-peer threats."
Still, Dooghan said as the unit becomes more powerful, "It is our well-trained soldiers who are the root of our lethality."
Despite the ceremony marking the official conversion, the 2nd ABCT is far from a finished product.
While much of the personnel necessary for an ABCT have arrived, and its infantry soldiers reassigned, the brigade’s actual armor — including Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, the self-propelled Paladin howitzers and the recovery vehicles that support them – is still coming in, according to Dooghan and 2nd ABCT Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McMurdy.
"We started receiving the recovery vehicles last month, we’ll continue receiving the tracked vehicles and train on them through next fall," Dooghan said, as the unit prepares for its own trip to the National Training Center in 2018.
The 2nd ABCT gives the 3rd Infantry Division two such brigade combat teams – the 1st ABCT is currently at the National Training Center. Dooghan called the partnership his unit has with the 1st ABCT "incredible," and said it provides his soldiers additional training opportunities at both NTC and in motor pools on Fort Stewart.
"We’ll have had two years to prepare for this,"Dooghan said. "A lot of units get to train, we get to master our craft."
Both men said the change from an infantry to armored brigade combat team won’t necessarily impact the surrounding community, since the conversion to an ABCT won’t mean an influx of soldiers.
"But we’re still members of these communities. That won’t change," McMurdy said.
And both men said what mattered most was the brigade’s soldiers as it worked to become what Dooghan called the Army’s "most lethal and fit" ABCT.
"Many people look at this as a platform to project power," Dooghan said. "But our capability is grounded in our soldiers. We have an incredible group of leaders and soldiers. And we’re proud to provide the nation another armored brigade combat team."