177th Armored Brigade welcomes new commander
Col. Jack Vantress, left, incoming commander of the 177th Armored Combined Arms Training Brigade, accepts the unit colors from Maj. Gen. Todd McCaffrey, commanding general of First Army Division East, during a change of command ceremony at Camp Shelb... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- Under gray skies in the heart of Mississippi's Pine Valley, Soldiers from the 177th Armored Combined Arms Training Brigade ushered in a new commander during a change of command ceremony here July 12.

Col. Jack Vantress took over command responsibilities from Col. Brandon Robbins.

"This is a great milestone in the lives of both these two commanders, and in the history of this brigade," said Maj. Gen. Todd McCaffrey, commanding general of First Army Division East, and the reviewing officer for the ceremony.

"Col. Jack Vantress and his wife are exactly the kind of team we need to continue the momentum this brigade has established," McCaffrey said. "His background and experience have prepared him well for this job."

McCaffrey said Vantress' time at U.S. Army Central Command, and as an observer coach/trainer at the Joint Readiness Training Center, make Vantress uniquely qualified for his new position as the 177th Armored commander.

"I could not be more excited to have a leader of [his] reputation and talent assume command of this great brigade," he said.

Vantress said he was just as excited to take command of the brigade.

"Thank you, Maj. Gen. McCaffrey, for the opportunity to lead this total Army force," he said. "It is truly a blessing not only to command, but also to do something I am passionate about, and that's training teams."

Vantress said it's a dream come true.

"I get to not only command, but also coach, teach, mentor and work with our partners in both the reserve components," he said.

"Col. Brandon Robbins did a phenomenal job," he said, "and "I'm humbled to become a member of the Spearhead Team."

McCaffrey said it was not long before he recognized excellence in the leadership of Robbins.

"It's often said that units take on the persona of their commanders, and that is certainly true of this outfit," McCaffrey said. "Robbins is a master trainer, a superbly gifted leader and a man of character and integrity.

"It is clear to me that while we'll [say] farewell to Col. Robbins from this brigade, his fingerprints will remain and continue to impact Soldier after Soldier, partner unit after partner unit, long after he has moved on."

Robbins said he would have been unable to leave such a mark if it were not for those with whom he served.

The last two years have had peaks and valleys, Robbins said, but it was rewarding and unforgettable.

"You pushed and inspired me to be a better officer, Soldier and leader," Robbins said. "I can only hope I have given half of what you have given me."

As he said farewell to the formation he once commanded, Robbins said, "Continue to press forward, give 100 percent and then some, never underestimate what you do with our partners, and I wish you all the best in the future."

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