FORT HOOD, Texas - The first commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's Division Special Troops Battalion "Mavericks" said farewell, April 3, to the unit he watched being formed about two and a half years before on the same division's parade field.

"Leaving command of this extraordinary battalion means saying goodbye to so many friends... A list too long to mention," said Lt. Col. Daniel Garcia, the battalion's outgoing commander.

"I am extremely proud to have served as the commander of these modern-day cavalry troopers," said the East Setauket, N.Y., native. "Maybe more than any other, this battalion represents the cross section of this division with every rank and every specialty in the Army present in this formation."

The battalion held all the division's staff as well as various specialty companies, which is a far stretch from how they started.

"When we activated this company we had four Soldiers assigned," said Garcia of the unit that formed July 15, 2005.

But the unit soon became a melting pot of skill sets.

"The DSTB is the command to which we attach all units who provide unique support..." said Brig. Gen. (P) Vincent K. Brooks, the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division.

"The size of this battalion consequently doubles when deployed and was in Baghdad really a small brigade of roughly 2,000 people," the Alexandria, Va., native added.

That "small brigade" had numerous missions and Garcia praised his Soldiers on their success.

"These troopers displayed an incredible mastery of skill sets to simultaneously execute combat operations, support and maintenance operations, security operations for VIPs, provide communication support for the headquarters, counter-fire support, air-defense artillery and airspace control, detainment operations, counter-rocket artillery, quick reaction forces, psychological operations, music support and public affairs operations," he said.

Brooks praised Garcia for his leadership during his command of the distinctive group of troops.

"Under the leadership of Lt. Col. Dan Garcia, this small brigade of special troops made some remarkable contributions - the missions that made Multi-National Division - Baghdad operate," said Brooks. "The missions they had were the hardest, least traditional, most visible missions we could assign to a battalion. They were functioning as a command post of the largest combat division ever born."

However, Garcia gave most of the credit to his troops, the leadership he received, his wife Crystal and two daughters, and the pride that comes with serving the 1st Cavalry Division.

"Wearing the First Team patch and being a Maverick comes with a feeling that is hard to describe to some extent, but that it is easy to see," said Garcia. "Soldiers walk a little taller, talk a little louder and tell better stories of their adventure because they are part of the legend that is this great division."

"It doesn't matter if it is the year 1860 or 2008, the world we live in is a dangerous place," he said. "But it is a better world, and it is safer every day a cavalry trooper puts on his Stetson and spurs and goes into harms way."

Garcia turned over his command to Lt. Col. Matthew Karres, from Chapel Hill, N.C. Karres' most recent assignment was as the Unconventional Warfare Branch Chief in J-3X at the United States Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

"I will miss the 1st Cavalry Division, but looking again, I am completely confident that this battalion is in great hands," said Garcia.