FORT STEWART, Ga. – Col. Terry R. Tillis, outgoing commander of the U.S. Army’s most modern brigade, the “Spartan Brigade,” 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, relinquished command to Col. Ethan J. Diven on June 16 on Cottrell Field at Fort Stewart. The Spartan Brigade will complete reception and qualification on all its modernized vehicle platforms this fall, and the 3rd ID will complete its modernization in 2023, fulfilling the Army's modernization priority.
“All I’ll say about the Spartan Brigade is you all do everything right, everything,” said Maj. Gen. Charles D. Costanza, Commanding General, 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart, during his remarks in the ceremony. “You live the Chief of Staff of the Army’s motto ‘Winning Matters’ because you all win at everything."
Tillis is a native of Sanford, Florida, and began his military career upon graduation from the University of Central Florida as a U.S. Armor officer.
“Terry is one of our best, he really is,” continued Costanza. “He is humble … he is selfless, he is genuine, and most importantly he is 100% a good person. It’s rare to find all four of those traits in one person.”
Tillis first took command of the brigade on Tower Barracks Parade Field, Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, on July 20, 2021, following the transition from the original five-month NATO exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 mission to the regionally aligned forces mission, Operation Atlantic Resolve, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in an unplanned nine-month deployment for the unit.
“We battled COVID; we battled trying to communicate with our Families; we fought to build trust with our Families; and we fought to train while building readiness; and then we completed a regionally aligned force deployment to Europe; we excelled in our [Joint Multinational Readiness Center] rotation; and we partnered with NATO Allies and Ukrainian special forces,” said Tillis as he addressed the formation and guests during ceremony. “Then we returned with 100% of the formation COVID-free, and then we embarked on modernizing our fleet. We tackled: ‘People First’ initiatives, the Army’s [Armored Formation] On-the-Move Network [Pilot], multiple warfighters, and present day we’re leading the way on the Army’s Multi-Purpose Vehicle operational testing and fielding while helping train our partners in the 48th [Infantry Brigade Combat Team] in their [exercise evaluation].”
Tillis has commanded at the company, battalion and now brigade level and has the loving support of his wife, Dana, and four-year-old daughter. His next assignment is Commander of the Operations Group at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and will be responsible for the scenario planning, training conduct and evaluation of Stryker and Armored Brigade Combat Teams for deployment certification.
“It is who we are Spartans; it’s part of our woven fabric,” continued Tillis. “Spartans stand together, shoulder by shoulder, shield by shield, with it or on it. We’re never alone, there’s always someone there for you.”
Diven, a native of San Diego, California, and graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute and Texas Tech University, is no stranger to the Division and comes to the Brigade with his wife, Sabrina, 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter. In 2019, he served as the 3rd ID’s top operations officer and assistant chief of staff.
“Terry and Dana … thank you for your class, your sponsorship and your friendship,” said Diven in his initial remarks as the new commander. “The environment and culture your leadership fosters is exactly what our Soldiers and Families deserve.”
Diven has commanded at the company and battalion level with his most recent command of the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage Alaska. Most recently, Diven served two years as the Chief of Land Operations in the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command at Norfolk, Virginia, with deployments in support of the repositioning of U.S. forces out of Somalia during Operation Octave Quartz and the noncombatant evacuation of U.S. personnel and at-risk Afghans out of Afghanistan during Operation Allies Refuge.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Sparta,” continued Diven. “Spartans are the best teammates and the worst foe with a winning mindset and a culture of development, simple standards, discipline and accountability. ‘Send Me’; ‘Rock of the Marne’; Spartan 6 entering the net.”
The Spartan Brigade is the tip of the spear on the Marne Division’s glide path to become the most modern Army division in 2023.