By Staff Sgt. Richard WrigleyJanuary 20, 2015
FORT STEWART, Ga. (Jan. 19, 2015) -- The Spartans have put down their shields, taken off their helmets and laid their spears to rest.
At least this is what the headline would have read if the topic of discussion were the inactivation of the famous army of ancient Grecian times.
Unfortunately the news of the day is about the inactivation of a different group of Spartans - the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, or ABCT, "Spartans" to be precise.
The 2nd ABCT, 3rd Infantry Division, made history once again as they met the nation's call one last time; casing their colors and making official the Spartan Brigade's inactivation in a ceremony befitting the solemn occasion, Jan. 15.
Col. Scott Jackson, commander, 2nd ABCT, gave a heartfelt speech after the colors were cased. He started off by explaining how a good military organization does what the nation asks and does it in good fashion.
"In the service, you don't get to pick your mission, your country simply tells you what needs to be done and then expects you to execute," said Jackson. "Our mission was to inactivate, and as a professional organization, that is what we did."
The brigade's four remaining battalions inactivated during the ceremony as well. The 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment "Garryowen"; the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment "Battlekings"; the 2-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion "Titans"; and the 26th Brigade Support Battalion "Challengers," all cased their respective colors.
The ceremony focused a great deal on the venerated 97-year history of the Spartan Brigade.
From its original constitution in 1917, the brigade or the units that made up the brigade, have participated in every major conflict since World War I. Most recently, the brigade was known for being the spearhead in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, seizing Baghdad in the famous "Thunder Runs." After Operation Iraqi Freedom I, the brigade deployed on multiple rotations in Iraq in the following years and became the only brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division to have served in all the major regions of Iraq.
In 2012, the 2nd ABCT, along with some of its subordinate battalions, served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where they helped grow the Afghan National Army as well as secure and stabilize regions that desperately needed help.
Most recently, the brigade's mission was to reset and get back to the core competencies of a standard armored brigade combat team. As it began this process, the brigade was challenged with the task of inactivation, which meant the divestiture of more than 52,000 pieces of equipment and the transfer of more than 3,800 personnel.
Over the last two years, the brigade not only met this challenge by finding homes for everyone and everything, but they also made sure that two full battalions and many other companies continued to train and maintain so that they could transfer to other organizations as whole, mission-ready units.
"We didn't want any of our formations or our Soldiers to become anchors and pull their gaining organization back," explained Jackson. "We wanted them right on line with their new organizations when they made the transfer."
Also during this time period, the 2nd Brigade took on the Physical Demands Study and provided the key research and data that will drive future accessions of females into combat occupations within the Army.
Throughout Jackson's speech, he explained that what made him most proud was not just everything the brigade had accomplished, but how they accomplished it. He noted that it was not done by the senior leadership in any way but was done by providing intent through command and allowing junior leaders the room to make it happen.
"It is truly amazing what can happen when you provide an azimuth and then get out of the way of your junior leaders," Jackson added.
Many have expressed sadness over the inactivation of the 2nd ABCT, but Jackson was quick to put in perspective the situation and its benefits.
"Despite our personal feelings, today is not a bad thing or a sad day - today is but a milestone in the evolution of this brigade, as change is necessary to keep up with the threats that face our country," said Jackson. "Additionally, in the not too distant future, the Spartans will reform as a light infantry brigade under the leadership of Col. Gukeisen and his team to continue our legacy."
Indeed, while the world has lost the Spartan Brigade, all is not lost forever, as the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division is slated to reflag as 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in the summer of this year.
"This organization and its legacy have endured 97 years. Throughout that 97-year history, the brigade has changed formations, it has changed units, it has gone away and it has come back, but every time this happens, it ties back into the history and legacy of the brigade before," explained Jackson. "When 4th Brigade picks up the colors this summer, the history is going to continue, and it is just going to be a new chapter. The Spartan lineage and legacy will continue on in the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team."