Raider Brigade changes command
February 2, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga - The sun shone down on the Soldiers from 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, as they stood on Fort Stewart's Cottrell Field and watched as a new brigade commander took control Jan. 28.
During the midday ceremony, 3rd Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo transferred control of the Raider Brigade from Col. Roger Cloutier to Col. James Crider.
After returning from a yearlong deployment to Iraq, and two and a half years under the control of Col. Cloutier, the ceremony was a benchmark in the history of the Raider Brigade.
Beginning in 2008, Col. Cloutier and the brigade spearheaded the Department of Defense's (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high yield Explosive) Consequent Management Response Force, in which they trained to respond at any time to natural or man-made disasters within the United States. While they were training for that mission, the brigade was also gearing up for its fourth deployment to Iraq, which they then left for in December 2009.
The transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn on Sept. 1, 2009, saw the Raider Brigade as the only remaining U.S. Military presence in Baghdad, taking the place of four U.S. brigades and partnering with the Iraqi Security Forces, said Maj. Gen. Cucolo during his speech in the ceremony.
While the brigade operated in Baghdad, Col. Crider, who served as the division's assistant chief of staff for training, was deployed in Northern Iraq.
"I had the unique privilege of watching these Soldiers from a distance while they served in Baghdad and assisted Iraqi Security Forces in the transition of leadership in Iraq's most important city and moved forward to competency levels that seemed unimaginable only a few years ago," he said. "I got to visit Baghdad once or twice, and I was very impressed with this brigade and I'm just very excited to be a part of it."
Now returned to Fort Stewart, a new challenge has presented itself for the Soldiers of the Raider Brigade, said Col. Crider.
"We are not scheduled to go on another deployment at the moment, so we are going to have more time here on Fort Stewart to train," he explained. "Our Army leadership has asked to broaden our training from just focusing more on Iraq or Afghanistan to what we call full-spectrum operations, which is more what we were doing eight or nine years ago before the war started."
While the attention to future changes within the brigade was evident in each speech, Col. Cloutier stressed the need to embrace the present and appreciate the past.
"In the coming months there are going to be numerous leadership changes, and many of you are going to go on to new jobs and new duty stations," he said. "But no matter where you go or what you do, you will always be part of the legacy of this brigade."
He then turned to Col. Crider, his voice laced with emotion, and said, "Cherish each and every moment with your Soldiers because time will pass very quickly and before you know it, you will be standing here giving your farewell speech."
No matter the upcoming changes, Col. Crider said he plans to do just that.
"I am really looking forward to getting to know the unit and the Soldiers that are here," he explained. "That is what the Army really is about, is the people. You can replace equipment and things that break, but you cannot replace the people."