STURTEVANT, Wis. - Maya Angelou, American poet, writer and civil rights activist, once said, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." Change was the theme for the 3rd Battalion of the 399th Regiment at their deactivation ceremony here on Dec. 3, 2016.
The deactivation was conducted as part of a larger restructuring of the 800th Logistics Support Brigade, which is headquartered in Mustang, Oklahoma. The 800th LSB falls under the umbrella of the 80th Training Command (The Army School System), headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The 3rd Battalion has been a part of the Sturtevant community since 1968.
As part of the overall Army Reserve restructuring taking place within the larger context of the total Army drawdown, the United States Army Reserve Command tasked the 80th TC to evaluate its operations and determine where efficiencies could be made.
Some of these efficiencies resulted in restructuring the 800th LSB. This lead to five battalions within the 800th being deactivated. Each of these five battalions has three companies that are also deactivating. This means that, in total, the 800th LSB is deactivating 20 units at 13 locations across the country.
Although the closures of these 800th LSB units are the first and most visible steps in this reduction, they are not the only steps, nor are they the last. Over the coming months, other battalions and portions of battalions under the 80th TC will either inactivate or be re-missioned to support the 80th TC.
The 800th LSB will continue to have a key role in the operations of the 80th TC as it takes on the responsibility for mission command over the 80th's TASS Training Centers over the next 12 months. These TASS Training Centers are located at Fort Hunter-Liggett and Camp Parks, California; Fort Knox, Kentucky; and Fort Dix, New Jersey.
The 800th LSB will also assume control over the Staff and Faculty Development Academy at Grand Prairie, Texas. At this academy, instructors throughout the 80th TC and the entire Army Reserve receive their initial qualification training as instructors and small group leaders.
Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Evans, deputy commanding general of the 80th TC, spoke at the ceremony. He explained that, with the overall Army reduction, "Things now seem to be happening at a faster pace, due to technology and social media constantly evolving." He also said another factor affecting these changes is that for the last 10 years, "we've gone through the biggest changes since World War II."
Commander of the 3rd Battalion, 399th Regiment. Lt. Col. Ryan Melby expressed his thoughts at the ceremony. "It has been an honor and a privilege working with the soldiers of this unit," Melby said. "These NCOs are some of the finest in the entire Army. This battalion has nothing but top notch Soldiers. I am confident you will go out and do great things."
Col. Bradly Boganowski, commander of the 800th LSB, also shared his thoughts about the battalion saying farewell. "There are some things you cannot control about this deactivation, but let's focus on things we can do," said Boganowski. "You have opportunities to share what you have learned here with other units."
Evans agreed, explaining that for the deactivating soldiers, they have opportunities to continue to serve in many other units. He charged everyone at the ceremony, "If you have a passion to continue being a soldier, be an instructor."
Soldiers assigned to these deactivating battalions within the 800th LSB are not being forced to leave the Army. They are being provided job opportunities for growth and development in other parts of the 800th LSB or the 80th TC. Approximately 90 percent of the 3rd Battalion's soldiers have already been placed in new positions.
Spc. David Bilitz, a transportation operator with the deactivating battalion, has already received orders assigning him to a new unit. He said that moving to a new unit is "just part of Army life."
"I liked working with the soldiers in this unit. They are like family to me," said Bilitz. "But I expected to eventually be reassigned to a new unit. That's the way the Army is. You might be with a unit in Kentucky one year, and the next year get assigned to a different unit in Hawaii. Change is a normal part of being in the Army."