By Mr. Robert Timmons (Jackson)June 16, 2016
Like a football team, a military organization only succeeds when the whole team is in sync.
Fort Jackson lost one of its strongest movers June 10, when the 171st Infantry Brigade "Blackhawks" encased its colors during an inactivation ceremony at the Post Theater.
For Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, Fort Jackson's commander and a college football player, other units might have gotten the glory for training Soldiers but no training wouldn't have occurred without the Blackhawks acting like linemen.
"We all know of the quarterbacks, running backs and the receivers get most of the glory as they put the ball in the end zone and score points," the general said. "Every one of them knows it takes the entire team especially the line, the offensive line, to get that ball across the goal line. The line here on our team that is in the trenches day in and day out and blocks on every play but never scores a touchdown; and most of them never get to handle the ball. Without the line you cannot win."
Fort Jackson is like a football team, he said. There are two basic training brigades "who train 45,000 Soldiers a year" and what isn't easily noticed is "the incredible role the Blackhawks brigade played as part of that training."
He lauded the 171st saying that the other brigades couldn't accomplish their mission "without you and what your Soldiers do."
The Blackhawks were in charge of all training sites including the Medical Simulation Treatment Facility, the 120th Adjutant General Battalion, and the cadre who ran the more than 40 ranges "that ran every single day."
"The 171st, under Col. (H. Clint) Kirk and Command Sgt. Maj. (Christopher J.) Menton, are our linemen."
Fort Jackson's commander said training of 58 percent of Army's Soldiers would be impossible without the Blackhawks, who were initially constituted in September 1917 in Camp Grant, Illinois to train Soldiers heading to Europe during World War I.
The 171st was The Blackhawks would train more than 115,000 Soldiers before deploying to Europe in 1918. The war ended before the 171st ever saw combat in World War I as a unit.
During World War II, the Blackhawks were again called into service. The fought against the Germans for 34 days in the 1945 before returning to the States to train up to fight Japan. The Blackhawks sailed to the Pacific Theater on Aug. 1, 1945, and arrived in the Philippines six days after Japan's surrender.
The 171st was activated at Fort Wainwright, Alaska in 1963 to help defend America during the Cold War. As the Cold War heated up the 171st Infantry Brigade was reactivated at Fort Wainwright, Alaska on July 1, 1963. The unit was inactivated once again in November 1972.
The 171st Infantry Brigade was reactivated at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in April 2007 until Army force realignments caused the unit to inactivate once more.
"For three years my predecessor and I fought to prevent this inactivation and provide better courses of action," Kirk said. "But we lost that fight and we started the path that led here today."
While the 171st wasn't happy they were being inactivated they "moved out to plan and execute the most thorough and professional transition possible," Kirk added.
The Blackhawks inactivation has been ongoing for some time.
More than a year ago the 91B -- Light Wheeled Mechanics Advanced Individual Training was moved to Fort Lee, Virginia only to be followed closely by the inactivation of the 187th Ordnance Battalion last year. Task Force Marshall and the Army Student Detachment were moved under the new Leader Training Brigade in the March, while the 193rd Infantry Brigade took charge of the 120th AG Battalion. Just recently the Special Troops Battalion was realigned to fall under U.S. Army Garrison.
I saw them casing the colors and got "sad," Cloutier said of the ceremony. "Most of the time when I see colors encased it was prepping for deployments as a unit deploying overseas to defend our nation. This one has much more final feel to it."