CAMP CASEY, South Korea - The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, has been on the Peninsula continuously since 1965. During that time, it has built a shared history with the Republic of Korea Army and the local population. Through combined training and operations, the Iron Brigade has stood shoulder to should with its ROK Army counterparts to deter the hostile North Korean regime.
Recently, history was made when 2nd ABCT, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, officially replaced 1st ABCT during a transfer of authority ceremony, July 2, at Camp Casey. This was the first of many future brigade rotations to the Peninsula.
"No matter what brigade rotates to Korea it will establish and maintain close ties with our Korean partners throughout the deployment," said Col. Matthew Eichburg, the 1st ABCT commander. "Key leader engagements and the combined division (2 Inf. Div.) will ensure frequent contact at all levels, from platoon to brigade and division staff."
There are multiple advantages of a rotational force over the permanently-stationed ABCT, Eichburg said. Soldiers in rotational units stay with that unit for much longer than Soldiers who are stationed in South Korea on a 12-month tour. The Soldiers' longevity leads to the ability to train at a higher collective level, at places such as the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., before coming to South Korea.
"While I wish we could have another eight months, I must say I am eternally grateful for the honor and privilege of having been able to wake up for the past 16 months and be called the Iron Team brigade commander," Eichburg said. "I would not change a single thing. The people on the team here in Korea, from Area IV to Area I, are unbeatable. Every one of the organizations always look out for the other."
The 1st ABCT will leave a great legacy behind, said retired Col. William Alexander, the 2nd Inf. Div. Museum director and division historian. When the division was reflagged on July 1, 1965, 1st brigade stood up. At that time, 2nd Inf. Div. consisted of three brigades: 1st, 2nd and 3rd brigade. The 1st brigade is the only brigade that has been continuous a part of the division since it came back to South Korea.
"Iron Brigade has always been the linchpin of the division," said Alexander. "It has been one of the best trained, most ready brigades in whole Army. For the past few years, it was also the only permanently forward deployed armored brigade combat team in the U.S. Army."
The brigade has been an integral part of making the South Korean alliance the strongest alliance in the world, said Alexander. Not only did the 1st ABCT train side-by-side with the ROK Army, but it also helped out the local communities when needed.
"I am very proud of the legacy we will leave, not just the legacy of unit here in Korea, but the legacy each of our Soldiers and leaders will take with them to their next units," said Eichburg. "For the past year, we have looked at the photos of all the past Iron Brigade commanders and every day we've asked ourselves if we were living up to the legacy they established. I think they would be very proud of what this team has done and where it is now."
The honor of serving in Korea is not to be taken lightly, said Alexander, who has also served in South Korea. The legacy, the memories of the 1st ABCT will live on as long as there is a 2nd Infantry Division.
"The colors will be cased for just a short time, then the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team will be reconstituted at Fort Lewis when the 3rd Striker Brigade Combat Team (2nd Inf. Div.) reflags," Alexander said. "So the history, honors, lineage and the legacy will continue, just in a different place. Those memories of those great Soldiers who have gone before us, are serving now and will serve in the future will always be a part of the U.S. Army."