FORT HOOD, Texas, Dec. 16, 2004 - Col. Michael F. Beech of Worchester, Mass., took command of the Army's newest modular unit of action during a ceremony here today.

Throughout his 20 years of service, Beech has held leadership positions from the platoon level through battalion. These include chief of exercise maneuver control at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La.; chief of G-3 plans for Fort Riley, Kan.; and his most recent assignment as commander of 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.He now looks forward to the task of building a brigade from the ground up in support of the Army's reorganization from a division-based to a brigade-based system."Any time a unit is transformed, and the Army takes on such an endeavor, there are going to be challenges, But there's nothing that could prevent us from accomplishing our mission." said U.S. Army Col. Michael F. Beech"The new modular brigade is part of the Army's transformation to more deployable units with greater combat power," Beech said. "My objective is to organize and train this new formation for eventual deployment."

One way to accomplish this, he said, is to keep a traditional approach to training and soldier development.

"It's nothing new. We're going to have soldiers that are physically fit, Soldiers that are experts with the weapons systems," said Beech. "I take a very fundamental approach to strength."

With training and the right leadership, Beech said, 4th Brigade Combat Team has the opportunity to greatly improve its ability to fight and win when called upon to do so.

"Imagine the power of an organization that's together, training, for three years. As the Army transforms into these BCTs, the potential to be more lethal, to deploy quicker and to be more agile as a total force is tremendous," he said.

The new brigade combat teams accomplish this in part by featuring combined arms battalions within each unit, he said.

These brigades can rapidly deploy and can be employed by a variety of different formations, he said.

As such, they are very powerful organizations. Beech said he will apply this system in 4th Brigade Combat Team to maximize its effectiveness in combat.

"My mission is to bring together these soldiers with their equipment in accordance with the training strategy to prepare them," he said.

"We'll be ready to deploy and take part in our nations' war on terrorism."

The structural changes could help lessen problems presented by the constant movement of soldiers caused by the individual replacement system as well.

From a readiness perspective, it's huge, he said, because the turbulence created by the constant influx and outflow of personnel does not optimize readiness.

Another new aspect of the brigade is the lifecycle management system, which allows soldiers to be locked into a unit for the operational cycle of that organization. Soldiers at the 4th Brigade Combat Team will be in place here at least until 2007.

This provides soldiers and their families a chance to have more stabilization. Soldiers may be able to purchase homes, spouses can obtain better, more fulfilling employment, and the families can establish ties to their local community, he said.

"We can now have soldiers staying in a unit for seven years or longer," Beech said. "Lifecycle management is a great system. This is a success story for our soldiers and their families."

Of course, a few bumps in the road are inevitable with an undertaking of this size, he said. Receiving and integrating all the new personnel, as well as working out limitations, such as barracks and office space, all have to be overcome. Beech says his soldiers are up to the task. "Any time a unit is transformed, and the Army takes on such an endeavor, there are going to be challenges," he said. "But there's nothing that could prevent us from accomplishing our mission."