By Michelle Butzgy/ParaglideSeptember 30, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Soldiers of the 319th Military Intelligence Brigade, 519th MI Bde., 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment and the 525th Headquarters and Headquarters Company stood in formation as a light drizzle fell on troops and guests, Friday, at Lightning Field on Fort Bragg.
It was all part of a ceremony rich in tradition as Col. Xavier T. Brunson took command of the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade from Col. James D. Edwards, the unit's outgoing commander.
Maj. Gen. Rodney O. Anderson, XVIII Airborne Corps deputy commanding general and Task Force Bragg commander, passed the colors, representing honor and lineage of the brigade, from Edwards to Brunson.
Although new to the battlefield surveillance community, Brunson has commanded units at Fort Bragg before. He was commander of Company C., 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division; commander, 1st Bn., 504th PIR, 82nd Abn. Div.; and deputy chief of staff, G3, XVIII Airborne Corps as well as an aide to the vice chief of staff of the Army.
Soldiers from the Army Ground Forces Band from U.S. Forces Command sounded bugle calls signaling troops to snap to attention as Edwards and Brunson inspected the troops with Lt. Col. Roy L. Tisdale, deputy commander and commander of troops.
The 525th BfSB's incoming and outgoing commanders' wives were recognized during the ceremony. Edwards' wife, Silke, received a bouquet of red roses, symbolizing the color of heart and care she showed Soldiers and Family members during Edwards' command. Yellow roses, a sign of welcome and new beginnings, were presented to Brunson's wife, Kirsten. Single yellow roses were given to daughters Raechel and Rebekah while the Brunson's son, Joshua received a 525th BfSB coin.
Brunson addressed the troops as commander for the first time. "You, as you stand there, are a continual reminder of our service to this great nation."
Brunson, a native of Fayetteville, thanked his wife, children and Family for supporting him. He also congratulated one of his aunts who turned 90 this week.
Then the new commander turned back to the field of Soldiers. "To truly the most important people here, the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade … we are a world class reconnaissance and intelligence unit. We are a thinking and disciplined organization. We care for our people, our missions and our legacy. We are and remain fast, factual and faithful."
Anderson spoke of the brigade's accomplishments, including a three-year-long transformation from a legacy force military intelligence brigade to becoming the first U.S. Army battlefield surveillance brigade with a dual mission of analyzing data and conducting combat operations. He also spoke of the brigade's efforts in Afghanistan to "physically and psychologically disrupt the Taliban."
"You and your Soldiers can be justifiably proud of what you've accomplished. You've changed yourself and you most profoundly changed the game in Afghanistan. -- job well done," he said.
During the brigade's deployment, they controlled an area the size of Connecticut, including 200 kilometers of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, interdicted 320,000 pounds of bomb-making material, secured ground lines of communication for friendly supplies and supported $60 million in development projects to help the Afghan people, added Anderson.
The general also spoke of the 525th BfSB's Family Readiness Group's many accomplishments. "While the Soldiers changed the game in combat, the Families did it here at home. They provided invaluable support to their Soldiers and these units -- they took care of each other," said Anderson.
In closing, Anderson thanked the Edwards Family for their service to the brigade and the Army. "Jim, you blazed a new legacy with this brigade. Be proud of your work here. Silke … you are a true force requirement multiplier."
Promising a quick speech so everyone could get to a drier place after the ceremony, Edwards thanked his troops for their service.
"These Soldiers got to be part of history rather than a spectator to it. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that 'a man must share in the perils of his time, lest he be judged not to live at all.' I know our Soldiers have done just that," he said.
Brunson's awards and decorations include: the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and Military Freefall Badge.
Edwards will move on to be the deputy chief of staff, G3, XVIII Airborne Corps.