FORT RILEY, Kan. – The 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team held a change of command ceremony on May 25, 2022, at King Field House on Fort Riley.
In honor of the outgoing 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division commander, U.S. Army Col. Thomas B. “Bull” Smith, the ceremony also welcomed the incoming brigade commander, U.S. Army Col. Bryan M. Harris, with the passing of the brigade colors.
“The most significant portion of today is we transferred responsibility,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John V. Meyer III, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley. “We are very lucky to have [Smith] command this formation with his family and then now to move up to be the division chief of staff. His passion, his presence, his energy, is going to make a difference when we get to Europe.”
Smith, a storied veteran of twenty-six years, assumed command of the 2ABCT in August of 2020. He began his military career after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute. In 1997, Smith was first assigned as a tank platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor, 2nd Infantry Division, in Camp Casey, Korea. He would later go to serve on a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a battalion maintenance officer with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment.
“It’s a great day to be in the Army and even a better day to be a Big Red One Soldier,” said Smith. “It’s a job well done. The proof is in the safety of our troops, the success of our operations, and the continued challenges that are sent Dagger’s way.”
After Smith graduated from the Command and General Staff College at the Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island, he deployed to Afghanistan with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. In 2016, Smith would assume command of the 1st Squadron, 809th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, in Fort Drum, New York, and in 2018 he attended the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
“For the leaders, Soldiers, and the 4,196 Soldiers of the Dagger Brigade, it’s been an honor to be part of your organization,” Smith said. “It’s been an honor to serve with you.”
For his service with the 2ABCT, Smith was awarded the Legion of Merit. His wife, Linda, was given the Shield of Sparta Heroine Infantry Award, an honor bestowed upon spouses of Soldiers who have supported their partners in the face of hardship and showed a steadfast volunteer spirit.
“You didn’t volunteer to serve in the Army,” said Meyer. “You agreed to marry your husband. So, thank you for saying yes. Thank you for agreeing to that.”
Harris, who grew up in North College Hill in southwestern Ohio, began his Army career on May 30, 1998. A graduate of the United States Military Academy, Harris deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as well as to the Republic of Korea as part of a brigade rotation. Before assuming command of the 2ABCT, Harris was the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment “Dreadnaughts,” 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div.
“The combat experience that [Harris] has and those experiences over his career makes him the absolute right leader to command this formation,” said Meyer.
Among its many accolades, 2ABCT contributed to a significant number of missions supporting stability throughout the world. Shortly after its establishment on May 24, 1917, exactly 105 years ago, the unit deployed to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force in the First World War. They would once again serve in France during the Second World War, aiding in the liberation of Europe. Years later, deployments to Vietnam, Kuwait, and Eastern Europe would follow.
“It will be a challenge to fill [Smith’s] shoes,” said Harris. “I feel very privileged to take the colors from you. I look forward to our journey together. I am humbled to be a Big Red One Soldier once again.”
With the Army’s traditions of ceremony Harris, alongside his wife Jackie, accepted command, officially entering himself into the pages of the brigade’s history.
(U.S. Army article by Spc. Charles Leitner, 19th Public Affairs Detachment)