By By BRYANAca,!E+GATCHELL Guardian staff writerMay 18, 2010
FORT POLK, La. -- Col. David T. Theisen took command of the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from Col. Scott A. Spellmon during a ceremony at Honor Field May 12.
1st MEB holds an important place in military history. It was the Army's first maneuver enhancement brigade, redesignated as such in 2007 to be the first active-duty modular unit. In 2008, Headquarters and Headquarters Company deployed to Afghanistan with other brigade elements to take command of Soldiers, Marines and Airmen from the United States, France, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Singapore. The brigade conducted counterinsurgency operations and increased infrastructure reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Commander Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough spoke on the history of the brigade at the ceremony.
"I believe the brigade wrote their own chapter in our history," said Yarbrough. "They're an engineer brigade task force designed primarily for engineer functions, and they did plenty of these with Army and Air Force contract engineer assets. In an unusual move, they were designated a maneuver headquarters with little or no notice and next to no training."
While HHC was deployed to Afghanistan, the 46th Engineer Battalion, and the 519th Military Police Battalion were deployed to Iraq and the 83rd Chemical Battalion and the 88th Brigade Support Battalion were deployed in support of HHC.
Spellmon was the commander of the brigade during this transitional phase.
"It has been my personal pleasure watching Scott Spellmon command this brigade," said Yarbrough. "Significantly, Colonel Spellmon extended in command when he got home to preside over setting his new team of commanders and progressing this brigade through the tough period of rebuilding, remanning, re-equipping and retraining. His leadership has bridged what is normally a turbulent period for any brigade."
Spellmon thanked the troops of 1st MEB and spoke of what the absent companies were doing to highlight the multifunctionality of the brigade.
"The whole brigade is not even here this morning," said Spellmon. "The 524th Fire Fighting Detachment is out serving in Kandahar Air Field in Southern Afghanistan, our 546th Maintenance Company is wrapping up its service in Iraq and the 209th MP Company remains deployed in Haiti to assist with the earthquake recovery. Also, the 814th Bridge Company is out in the JRTC box training for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan later this summer, and finally the 204th MP and 488th Quartermaster Companies are over on main post conducting their day one reintegration training as they just redeployed from Iraq in the last 48 hours."
Looking out on his audience at Honor Field, Spellmon remarked on his appreciation for Fort Polk.
"This installation and this community have always given superb support to the 1st MEB and this morning is no exception," said Spellmon.
Spellmon is moving to Fort Leonard Wood's Maneuver Enhancement Center of Excellence to share his counter improvised explosive device expertise with the Army.
Theisen comes from Fort Leonard Wood where he was the co-lead of the Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Integrated Capabilities Development Team. A native of Missouri and graduate of University of Missouri, Theisen has also served in Germany, Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley, Kan., and has received a number of awards including some for his work in anti-terrorist tactics.
While deployed to northern Iraq from Fort Riley as the commander of the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, his battalion cleared IEDs during the surge. Yarbrough appreciated this ability.
"I watched Dave command and deploy to Northern Iraq, taking his infantry battalion into the fray," said Yarbrough. "He absolutely stunned the enemy by reducing IEDs in northern Iraq at the height of the surge. Dave's approach to clearing routes was ingenious, unlike any I've seen, and he took a huge dent out of the enemy when we needed him to do it the most."
This is the 18th career move Theisen has made in the Army with his spouse Marguerite.
"I'd like to thank Colonel Spellmon and his staff, the 1st MEB and the Fort Polk staff for making Marguerite and I feel at home already," said Theisen.