FORT DRUM, N.Y. - The Warrior Brigade became stronger and more versatile than ever Friday after they fell in line with the Army's plan in one of the service's largest organizational changes since World War II.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) held a transformation ceremony on Fort Drum Oct. 17 to welcome Spartan Soldiers and their unit colors from the recently inactivated 3rd BCT to its rank.
The realignment and restructuring of the Brigade Combat Team is part of the Army's plan to make the BCT more lethal, flexible and agile, while decreasing the total number of troops in the Army from a wartime high of over 570,000 to 490,000. Building this new team prepares the Army and the Warrior Brigade to be a more prepared global response unit for any situation.
"In terms of team building, we worked really hard to set the conditions so that all the new pieces kind of fell into place pretty seamlessly and they all share this identity with first brigade and that we are kind of stepping off together in terms of being focused on the right priorities," said Col Mark O'Donnell, commander of 1st BCT.
During the ceremony, 3rd Squadron 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry REG and 7th BDE Engineer BN stood up within the Warrior Brigade as their colors were uncased welcoming them as the newest units within the Warrior Brigade.
"This current structure now, we are fully embedded in 1st Brigade Combat Team and in addition to engineers, we also have military intelligence and signal Soldiers, so we are basically all the combat support, combat enablers for the brigade," said Lt. Col. Michael N. Clancy, former commander of 7th Engineer Battalion, now deputy commanding officer for 1st BCT. "It's a shift from what my battalion did in my last organization, when I took command, which was just straight engineering, general support to multiple brigades and multiple divisions at the same time."
Two units were also inactivated during the ceremony: 1st Squadron, 71st CAV and 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion. The Soldiers within 1st BSTB were realigned under 7th BDE ENG BN and 1-71CAV was reflagged to 3-71CAV.
"I think it's good, it sort of merges the engineer battalion concept and the special troops battalion concept and we'll be able to provide the support that the brigade needs," said Clancy.
The history of the 7th ENG BN dates back to the American Civil War, and had played a big role in multiple wars since. 1-32IN also has a rich history dated back to World War I where the unit was used to escort German prisoners of war being transferred to the United States from Hawaii. 1-32IN was also one of the original units that made up 1st BCT during its activation on April 11, 1986.
"That's one of the interesting things about the 10th Mountain Division history that is a little bit unique to Fort Drum; we're like a blended family, so you have multiple histories that come into light when you have an organization like ours," said O'Donnell. "But some of these individual regiments have been around since the American Civil War and that is incredible to me that we have Soldiers standing in formations under unit colors that have been around since the 1860's. That's one of the things that's very special about the Army, that we have this long heritage and tradition and that kind of sustains."
As well as the challenge of realigning units within the BCT, there are other future trials the brigade is scheduled to face.
"We've got some bigger challenges ahead of us, though, in January the entire brigade will come together and go to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk and that will be an even bigger challenge, it will be a harder test, but I think that for us we'll come out of that and everybody will be like 'yes, we're all members of first brigade' and that doesn't happen over night," O'Donnell said.
The Army's realignment initiative also gives the BCT enhanced maneuver capabilities, route clearance assets and amped up field artillery and fires support.
"1-32 coming from third brigade won't really feel like a member of first brigade until we do something demanding and tough that brings us together as a team," said O'Donnell.
The transformation occurred as part of the Army's plan to cut 10 BCTs by the end of fiscal year 2017 and reorganize within the units as part of a restructuring process.
"This is the new Army," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno. "The new Army is something that is globally responsive and regionally engaged. We have to be able to respond anywhere in the world very quickly."
As the camaraderie and unity of the units continues to grow, so will the history of the brigade; Soldiers of the Warrior Brigade and former Spartan Brigade are now a part of this significant piece of history.
"This is just a new chapter in my battalion's history and I feel honored to be a part of it," said Clancy. "I obviously wasn't around in 1861, but I feel like I'm part of it, and I feel like now I'm writing history for future generations which will inherit my battalion, and then becoming part of 10th Mountain Division is a special honor, too."
This reorganization is a testament to the Army's ability to adapt in an ever-changing world; the Warrior Brigade epitomizes this ability to adapt and successfully complete any mission the future may hold.