By Col. Jack Haefner
CAMP RED CLOUD -- It was only about two weeks ago that our Korean friends and hosts took to the highways and rails and celebrated their Lunar New Year holiday, and the big annual Key Resolve military exercise is underway on the peninsula. And while this is without a doubt still winter, we're fast closing in on spring. That means we're getting closer to some of the big events that will begin unfolding for our Soldiers and their units here in Area I.

One is the inactivation of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, part of the 2nd Infantry Division. When the brigade inactivates this summer, it will be replaced by the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, part of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

The 2nd ABCT -- known in military shorthand as the "2-1" -- will be in Korea on a nine-month rotation, after which other units will follow it in a succession of nine-month rotations.

Lots of excitement surrounds all this, partly because this will be the first time in the Army's history that it will move an entire combat brigade to South Korea for a nine-month rotation.

So lots of excitement, but lots of careful preparation too.

I recently spent time with the 2-1 Cav's leadership while they were here in Korea laying further groundwork for their upcoming rotation.

During that period it was exciting to see the single-minded drive and energy they brought to the mission. They're leaving no stone unturned in making sure that when the brigade arrives in Korea it hits the ground running and is "Ready to Fight Tonight."

I thank the 2-1 Cav's Col. Sean Bernabe and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert L. Ochsner and their entire team for being so easy to work with during their visit. We at the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I will be working a lot more with them in the course of this year. Because our role is to support the warfighter, night and day, with the facilities and services they need to stay ready for the fight.

We'll likewise be working closely with the 1ABCT as they move through the various phases of inactivation.

We've made it our business to ensure that the facilities they rely on for gunnery and other training at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex are of the type needed so they and other 2nd Infantry Division units can train as they'd fight.

Inactivation brings with it an exhaustive checklist of tasks for 1ABCT -- readying barracks, motor pools and other facilities for handover to the incoming unit; meticulous inventorying of equipment; and, for the individual Soldier, outprocessing, de-registering privately owned vehicles, and a lot more.

Our garrison will give 1ABCT practical support with all those close-out tasks.

Besides these things we'll also be doing some critically important planning on how to best staff our garrison to meet its mission as Area I goes through the process we call "transformation."

Transformation will see most of the forces now in Area I move gradually south to a new home at Camp Humphreys. Just what eventual changes that'll mean for our staffing levels, and on what timetable, is a plan we'll be carefully putting together.

Whatever its final form, our game plan will be one that gives a clear roadmap that will help both our U.S. and Korean employees and partners make decisions for the longer-term.

Meanwhile, winter as I said earlier, hasn't released its grip. For us in Warrior Country, winter so far has been cold enough but on the whole relatively mild as Korean winters can go.

But we need to keep vigilant. Between now and spring we may yet be hit with one or more winter storms, bringing not merely snow but slush, ice and freezing rain. And with that the hazards of slips, trips and falls and auto mishaps. So, in everything you do, continue to do it with safety in mind.

Also in this the period, many of our Soldiers and other service members will be gearing up for the new duty stations they'll move to over the summer months.

So it's not too early for leaders to start reminding their Soldiers of how important it is that they finish their Korea tour in the right way. That's by continuing to take pride not only in quality job performance but also in good Soldierly conduct, on-post and off, during business hours and after.

Our garrison will continue holding up its responsibility of giving our Soldiers plenty of enjoyable and worthwhile things to do with their time -- competitive sports, off-post trips, libraries and education centers, all of which you'll find advertised through our various media: In The Zone magazine, our garrison's Facebook page, on the Command Channel and elsewhere.

All these activities keep Soldiers engaged in positive, exciting experiences that contribute to resilience and good morale. And they help them leave Korea with a clean record, good memories, and a sense of pride and satisfaction that they've played their honorable part in serving their nation in uniform, here at the "tip of the spear."