FORT BLISS, Texas -- The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team (1/1 AD) conducted a ceremony to officially convert the brigade into the Army's newest armored brigade combat team June 20.
Distinguished guests from the Fort Bliss and El Paso community watched two of the brigade's infantry regiments convert into armor regiments. Guests also took part in a large social event for the brigade's members and families, alumni of the new armor regiments, and members of the El Paso community.
Last September, the Army directed 1/1 AD, also known as the Ready First Brigade, to convert to an armored brigade. Since then, the brigade turned in more than 300 Stryker vehicles and is expected to begin receiving Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin artillery systems, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) this summer.
The effort is part of an Army-wide reorganization to develop a more capable and lethal force which can overmatch near-peer threats.
"Today's conversion ceremony represented a significant change for the 1st Armored Division as our 1st Brigade Combat Team will now be manned and equipped to accomplish Army-assigned missions which require armor assets," said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Cobb, 1st Armored Division. "The soldier formation representing the newly minted 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team looked strong as ever standing and marching on the Ready First parade field as veterans and local community members witnessed this historic event. I am truly proud of our Ready First soldiers who represent America's Tank Division."
The focus of the conversion ceremony was to commemorate the approximately 80 years of brigade history while also celebrating this significant moment. The brigade commander, Col. Michael J. Trotter, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
"We are here to commemorate and celebrate; that's really what this is all about. We're commemorating the Ready First Brigade and the almost 80 years of dedicated service to the nation by its service men and women," Trotter said. "But make no mistake about it, this is about enhancing our strategic readiness and our strategic lethality. We now stand on the cusp of 2020 and face evolving threats to this great nation. As we have always done, we adapt to face those threats to our democracy no matter where they may come from."
In conjunction with the brigade conversion, 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment (Rifles) redesignated as 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment (Thunderbolts) and 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment (Buffaloes) redesignated as 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment (Iron Dukes).
The Ready First Brigade's soldiers will participate in new equipment training which will take approximately a year to fully develop armor capabilities in preparation for contingency missions.
The addition of a third armored brigade combat team is significant to the 1st Armored Division's history.
The division has not maintained all armored maneuver brigades since 2008 when the unit resided in Germany.
Army leadership chose Fort Bliss as the site for the Army's newest armored brigade, now 16 total, because it is the most efficient and effective installation based on a military value analysis (MVA) of such aspects as existing maneuver land, training facilities, deployment infrastructure, and quality of life for soldiers and families.