Soldiers of 1st, 2nd Brigade Combat Teams conduct combined deployment ceremony
January 17, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Brigade Combat Team cased their colors for their upcoming deployment during a combined ceremony Friday at the Magrath Sports Complex on post.
As tradition dictates, when elements of the Army deploy, commanders of each unit will present their unfurled colors during a formal casing ceremony. Once the unit arrives at its destination, the colors are uncased and remain unfurled during the deployment.
With the brigades proudly displaying their colors before the crowd, Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, stepped to the podium to address the Soldiers, Families and distinguished guests who attended the ceremony.
"The colors and the battle streamers of each regiment before you represent every award since the founding of our nation," Townsend said. "The symbols of the 1st Warrior Brigade and the 2nd Commando Brigade, these colors have seen service in Southwest Asia, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and lots of other hot, dusty, muddy trouble spots … around the world."
Both brigades have repeatedly deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom since Sept. 11, 2001.
"It is fitting we are here today at this combined deployment ceremony to recognize the continuing service (of two) of the most highly regarded and most deployed brigades in our Army today," Townsend continued. "Elements of both of these brigades were among the first conventional forces deployed in this war."
Col. Stephen L. Michael, 1st BCT commander, said it was an honor to be at the ceremony and his brigade is ready to deploy on our nation's behalf.
"We are fully aware of what is being asked of us and of whom we represent. We deploy representing these United States of America, the best country on the planet; we represent this great North Country and the Light Infantry Division, the 10th," he said.
Michael acknowledged his bri-gade could not have prepared for this deployment without the support of the commanding general, the division and Families.
"A brigade combat team does not train to fight by its own doing. Sir, we stand here today because of your leadership and that of Lt. Gen. (Mark) Milley, (former Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division commander), and because of the support of this great division, your staff and the (Mission Support Element)," he said. "And (it's) because of the love and support of our Families -- both our immediate and extended. You all have our thanks and our deepest gratitude."
Col. Dennis S. Sullivan, 2nd BCT commander, was the last to take to the podium.
After he thanked everyone for attending the ceremony, he reminisced about the speech he made when he took command of the brigade almost two years ago.
"Few people would remember what I said when I took command of this brigade over 20 months ago; in fact, no one remembers but myself," Sullivan explained. "But what I said was that it was my solemn duty to ensure our brigade was ready for whatever mission our nation asked of us. I can tell you we are ready.
"These Soldiers and leaders have been working hard, not just these past six months since our mission changed to be an SFAB (Security Force Assistance Brigade), but since our return from our last deployment in 2010," he added.
Soldiers of 2nd BCT have trained hard this past year to prepare for their mission in Afghanistan by taking advantage of all available training environments.
"We have trained hard, not only here in the heat and cold of Fort Drum, but also at our Army's premiere training centers: the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.," Sullivan added.
Once the speeches were finished, the room fell silent as Townsend stood beside Michael and Sullivan while they cased their brigades' colors for the journey to Afghanistan.
"As the nation looks towards concluding the combat operations in Afghanistan over the next 23 months, it is tough but fitting that these brigades … will be among the last to fight," Townsend said.