FORT HOOD, Texas-2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers welcomed a new commander, Col. John Peeler, and fare welled Col. Ryan Gonsalves during a change of command ceremony on Cooper Field, here, April 9.

Having spent two years with brigade, Gonsalves had a lot to say and many people to thank during his last speech to his troopers.

"I believe in my heart that this is a special unit because of you," he said. "The most important thing I want to do this morning is thank you for all of your sacrifices, hard work, and dedication during what has been a difficult time for all of us."

Gonsalves and his brigade only recently returned from a year in northern Iraq, where they managed the duel tasks of disrupting insurgents and enhancing Kurdish-Arab relations.

"Rarely in the course of a career do you actually ever have the privilege of serving at the point of the spear-leading troops in combat," he said. "It is a deep honor to humbly serve among the heroes who risk their lives every day, and whose selfless service in defense of our nation's interests remains an inspiration to me and all who have the privilege of serving in a time of war."

"Future generations will mark your service with the pride and honor worthy of your tremendous sacrifice," he continued.

As Gonsalves leaves this command, he is already preparing for a return trip to Iraq to serve as the executive officer for Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of United States Forces-Iraq.

Peeler, who has served in the Army for 27 years, was most recently assigned as the operations officer for the Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.

Peeler assumes command with a firm plan in mind. With this unit having just returned from a very specific mission working with security forces and conducting stability driven operations in Iraq, it is important now to focus on fundamental Soldiering skills, according to Peeler.

"We have to get back and ground ourselves in the basics."

Peeler plans for this to be a brigade-wide focus as Soldiers go through new equipment fielding, equipment familiarization and gunnery.

Although Peeler sees the need for his troopers to get back to their roots, he is confident in the abilities they already possess.

"I couldn't have asked for a better brigade," he said. "It's got a great reputation, well trained, highly skilled, lethal, competent, and is able to conduct full spectrum operations."

In addition to retraining Soldiers in fundamental areas, Peeler will also use his time here to help build an even stronger sense of teamwork and improve the lines of communications within the brigade.

"One of my number one tenets is that we are team players," he said. "I personally want to have open lines of communication up and down and parallel within the chain of command. With communication comes teamwork."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16