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'Swarm' marks brigades transition to light
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Nearly 3,000 soldiers of the 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division heralded their brigade’s historic transition from a heavy combat team to a light and mobile infantry unit during a Vanguard Swarm on Tuesday morning. The 4th Brigade, initially established in 2004, is the first light infantry brigade combat team formed since 1940.
“Our soldiers are adapting quickly,” said Maj. Mark Geeting, 4th Brigade Public Affairs officer, with a snap of his fingers. Geeting said the 4th Brigade has been undergoing physically demanding conditioning in preparation for combat training.
“The 315th Infantry recently completed the 50-mile “China Mile” at Camp (Frank D.) Merrill,” he said. Merrill is in Dahlonega, near the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of North Georgia.
Brigade commander Col. Lou Lartigue himself completed 13 miles of the 50-mile hike. Lartigue said the 4th Brigade’s conversion to light infantry is a mental transformation as well as a physical one.
“It’s a change of mindset, too,” he said.
Lartigue said the Army “reformed and reset” the 4th Brigade to balance its number of light brigades.  
The 4th Brigade will likely undergo joint readiness training in April 2010 at Fort Polk, La., although Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo said he’s pushing for NRTC at Fort Irwin, Calif.
“You’ll rehearse in April, deploy in the summer and prepare yourself between now and then,” Cucolo told the assembled troops. “I believe you and I will end up in the same country.”
Cucolo will deploy with the 3rd ID to Iraq in October.
In addition to his words of farewell, Cucolo presented Sgt. John Huggins of the 4th Brigade a rare medal: the Soldier’s Medal, awarded for valor in peacetime. Huggins was honored for saving a fellow soldier from committing suicide in April.
“Sgt. Huggins would never leave a fallen comrade behind,” Cucolo said.
He then read a compelling narrative of Huggins’ concerted efforts — at “great personal risk” — to prevent another soldier from committing suicide.
The general also awarded safety award streamers to five of the 4th Brigade’s 30 companies for achieving 180 days without accidents.
“This means you’re committing as a unit to following orders and showing you will do what is right as a unit,” Cucolo said. The general said individual soldiers among the 4th Brigade’s safest companies also showed they were committed to making wise choices.
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