FORT STEWART, Ga. - The Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, began the next chapter of the brigade's nonpareil history, Sept. 1, by bidding farewell to the commander who led them in combat and welcoming a new leader primed to champion them into what lies ahead.

At a ceremony before the Soldiers and friends of the brigade, Maj. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams, commander of the Third Infantry Division, officially transferred the command of the 4th IBCT from Col. Lou Lartigue to Col. Kimo C. Gallahue on Cottrell Field at Fort Stewart.

Following a time-honored tradition, Col. Lartigue relinquished command by passing the brigade's colors to Maj. Gen.Abrams, who transferred them to Col. Gallahue to symbolize the colonel's assumption of the brigade command.Major General Abrams said it was a great day for the Vanguard brigade to be welcoming a new commander, but that it was also a somber day to be saying goodbye to Col. Lartigue, whose leadership positively impacted the brigade, the division and Iraq during the past 30 months.

"Colonel Lartigue is a leader [who's] out front--like the brigade's motto--and [he] had a clear understanding of where he and the Vanguards needed to go," Maj. Gen. Abrams said. "His will [and] his tireless pursuit of excellence prepared this brigade to accomplish any mission, anytime, anywhere."

The first mission Col. Lartigue accepted after taking command of the 4th IBCT in March of 2009 was transforming what was a heavy armor brigade into the light infantry brigade it is today--all while preparing the brigade's Soldiers and Families for a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

In July 2009, Col. Lartigue led the Vanguard Brigade to answer the nation's call to serve a 12-month tour to the Anbar province of Iraq. The brigade was responsible for the province in its entirety, which was approximately one-third the total size of Iraq.

"Our mission was to partner with and strengthen Iraqi security forces [and] to advise, train and assist them in securing the Iraqi population, and to continue to foster the United States' and Iraq's enduring strategic partnership," Col. Lartigue said in his farewell speech. "Major General Abrams and distinguished guests, I'm proud to report that we accomplished that mission."

"Today has less to do about me and all to do about what this brigade has accomplished," Col. Lartigue added.

Major General Abrams said Col. Lartigue's leadership will be missed, but that he is sure that Col. Gallahue is recharged, refreshed and ready to command.

Colonel Gallahue joins the 3rd ID after serving for a year at the U.S. Army War College.

"I just met Col. Gallahue and I'm … tremendously impressed," Maj. Gen. Abrams said. "He's an expert infantryman [and] he's a distinguished combat leader with incredible operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Today no one is more qualified to assume command of the 4th [Infantry] Brigade Combat Team and prepare them for the challenges--whatever they may be--that lay ahead."