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Spartan brigade reorganizes before inactivation
Col. Robert Ashe, 1st ABCT commander, receives the unit colors for the 1/64th Armor from 3rd ID Commander, Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, signifying the unit's transfer from 2nd ABCT. Ashe then transferred the colors to his newest battalion commander, Lt. Col. Sean Kuester. Col. Scott Jackson, commander of the 2nd ABCT stands by after passing off the colors.

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team took its next big step toward inactivation Friday with a reorganization ceremony on Cottrell Field.

Since taking command of the Spartans in July 2013, Col. Scott Jackson has worked toward fulfilling a Department of Defense plan to reduce and reorganize the Army, including reducing each active-duty division by one brigade combat team.

After Friday’s ceremony, the brigade of nearly 5,000 soldiers, with battle streamers going back to World War I, now consists of about 800 soldiers.

Following an inspection of the units by Jackson and his commander, Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, two separate unit-transfer ceremonies were conducted.

The Spartans’ 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment is now part of 3rd ID’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment now is part of the 3rd ID’s 1st ABCT.

The ceremonies began with Lt. Col. Mark Olsen, commander of the 1/30th Infantry, presenting his unit’s colors to Jackson who, in turn, handed the colors to Murray.

Murray then handed off the Battle Boars’ colors to its new 4th IBCT commander, Col. Thomas Gukeisen, who then handed the colors back to his newest battalion commander.

A similar ceremony followed with the 1/64th Armor. Lt. Col. Sean Kuester presented his unit colors to his former brigade commander, who presented them to the division commander, who presented them to the new 1st ABCT commander, Col. Robert Ashe.

Ashe then gave the Desert Rouges’ colors back to Kuester.

“This ceremony is taking place this morning because the Army and the Marne Division are once again going through a transformation,” Murray said. “Our division is in the process of reorganizing from three armored brigade combat teams and one light-infantry brigade combat team to (only) one armored brigade combat team and two light-infantry brigade combat teams.”

Maj. Matthew Fontaine, 3rdID assistant public-affairs officer, said the 3rd ABCT, which is stationed at Fort Benning, will transition to a light-infantry brigade next year. Also, he said, in June next year, the 4th IBCT will be reflagged and become the reactivated 2nd IBCT.

Murray said the reason he and his commanders decided to do Friday’s ceremony was because there would be only about 200 soldiers left in the 2nd ABCT on Jan. 15 when the official inactivation ceremony is scheduled. They wanted the entire brigade to be able to get together one last time, he said.

He said inactivating a brigade combat team was not an easy task and has taken the planning and cooperation of every level of command in every unit within the brigade and division staff. Over $1.2 billion in buildings, vehicles and equipment have to be transferred, he said, including barracks and motor pools. By the end of November, the brigade’s strength will have been reduced to fewer than 500 soldiers.

Before concluding his remarks, Murray asked the soldiers and guests attending the ceremony to remember the 468 soldiers represented on Warriors Walk and their Gold Star family members for their great sacrifices. He promised the same commitment for those families will continue.

During his remarks, Jackson said each time the Spartans were called, they never replied, “I’ll be there in a minute.” Instead, when they were needed, Jackson said Spartan brigade soldiers always have replied like the prophet Isaiah, who said, “Here am I. Send me.”

Jackson noted particular points in the Spartans’ 97-year history, whether it was World War I or Iraq. As he did so, he queued his brigade to respond to the call by saying, “And you answered.” A unified shout of “Send me!” echoed back from across Cottrell Field.

Jackson said about 300 individual soldiers from the 2ndbrigade will go to assignments within the division or Fort Stewart garrison. Another 500 soldiers will be leaving the service or going to assignments at other Army installations.

He said his property books began with 52,000 pieces of property, which had to be distributed across the Army. He has 5,000 pieces of property left, he said. His priority, however, is to ensure the soldiers and their families are taken care of.

“It’s all about taking care of your soldiers,” he said. “We have faith in the Army. Everything is going to work out.”

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