FORT STEWART, Ga. Colonel Lou Lartigue received the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Colors March 19 on Fort Stewart's Cottrell Field, signifying his taking command of the light infantry brigade.

Lartigue, who completed a year as the Army War College National Security Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program, took command from Col. Tom James, who led the Vanguard Brigade through 14 months of combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom and brought them home in December 2008. James is slated to take over as the 3rd ID chief of staff this spring.

"Today we celebrate the many past successes of the Soldiers and the Families of the Vanguard Brigade," said Lartigue.

Major General Tony Cucolo, 3rd ID commander, presided over the change-of-command ceremony of the Vanguard Brigade, which was the first new brigade created, May 26, 2004, under the Army's modularity transformation initiative. More recently, the brigade began its transformation from heavy armor to light infantry March 16.

"What it's all about today is the Vanguard Warriors before you," said James. "I am honored and humbled to stand before you today and to be able to say that over the past 32 months we rebuilt this combat team into a cohesive, combat organization. We deployed, accomplished our mission, and redeployed home to our Families.

"In Iraq you took the fight to extremists in portions of seven different provinces in a dangerous and complex environment. You defeated al Qaeda, secured the population, professionalized the Iraqi Security Forces, and allowed governance and economics systems to grow. All of your hard work and sacrifices continued into the transformation of the security situation in central Iraq. Together with our Iraqi counterparts, we enabled the change from ethnic violence and insurgency to stability and growth. The people of Iraq returned to their homes and began living their lives in a more prosperous environment in secured neighborhoods."

The 14-month rotation was not without sacrifices.

"As we look to the flanks of our formation we see the hallowed ground of Warriors Walk; where the Eastern Redbud trees are in bloom and memories of 20 brave Vanguard Warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice in our OIF rotation stand in over watch," James continued. "God bless them and their Families; these fallen heroes represent the selfless service of all Vanguard Warriors standing before you today."

As Lartigue takes the reins, he and his six battalion and squadron commanders, each of whom also recently took command, are tasked with transforming the once heavy brigade into a light infantry brigade.