The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division cased its colors Thursday on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field.
Casing of the colors is a military tradition that symbolizes the unit’s readiness to deploy. The team of approximately 2,200 soldiers will provide support and training to the Afghan National Security Forces as they continue to improve their ability and leadership in operations.
Col. Kimo C. Gallahue, commander of 4th IBCT, started by asking the audience at the ceremony to join him in applauding the brigade’s soldiers for everything they have done in preparation for their deployment to eastern Afghanistan.
“Now we case our colors for a fourth time, deploying to combat in a period of critical transition in Afghanistan,” Gallahue said. “The soldiers before you … are volunteers who stand ready and willing to go to a dangerous place, at great personal risk, to defend our freedom and our way of life.”
Soldiers in 4th IBCT also are confident in their training. First Lt. Christopher P. O’Neal, a native of Honesdale, Pa., and a platoon leader in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th IBCT, said, “Our training we have conducted here will help downrange by teaching the Afghan soldiers to be able to do certain tasks on their own, so that’s our main focus.”
This will be O’Neal’s first deployment.
Gallahue also recognized the soldiers of the 4th IBCT who will not deploy.
“Along with the loved ones we leave behind, we also have a sizeable home detachment who will be under the able command of Lt. Col. Lee Overby and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Goodwater. These soldiers are no less valuable to the Vanguard Brigade, the Marne Division and our nation,” Gallahue said. “The soldiers on home detachment will continue to train and maintain their equipment, and like their comrades deployed, they will continue to take care of each other as brothers and sisters in arms.”
Brig. Gen. John H. Hort, 3rd ID deputy commander-rear, was the presiding officer for the 4th IBCT color-casing ceremony. He spoke highly of the Vanguard Brigade.
“I have the utmost confidence that this brigade — just like the other sister brigades that have preceded them — will make a lasting difference in accepting the mission for sustaining success in Afghanistan,” he said.
This will not be the Vanguard Brigade’s first deployment, though it will be their first time in Afghanistan. The brigade has seen three deployments to Iraq since its activation in 2004. The first was less than a year later, in March 2005, assuming responsibility of the Multi-National Division Baghdad, an area that previously was occupied by two brigades. October 2007 saw the Vanguard Brigade deploy to the Multi-National Division- Center during the final stages of surge operations. July 2010 saw the Vanguards back in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, strengthening Iraqi security forces.