FORT HOOD, Texas-- Trained and ready, Soldiers assigned to 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team "Long Knife," cased their unit colors during a ceremony on Cooper Field Oct. 26 here.
The ceremony marked the beginning of a new mission the unit will begin in the upcoming weeks.
"Today, having celebrated its seventh birthday, the Long Knife brigade is again standing on Cooper Field to case its colors in preparation for deployment," said Col. William Benson, commander of 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. "This is the fifth casing ceremony the brigade has conducted in just over seven years of activation."
With three deployments to Iraq in its short history, this will serve as the brigade's first deployment to Afghanistan.
"We deploy as the first security forces assistance brigade sent to Afghanistan. Our mission is to develop the capabilities of the Afghan Army and Police so they may assume the lead for security in their new country. This mission harkens to another fledging nation with a new Army that was in need of professionalization at its genesis," Benson stated, referring to the beginning of the U.S. Army and the assistance it received from other nations.
Soldiers of the brigade have completed several months of training including a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk as a final training event leading up to this deployment.
The brigade will field Security Force Advise and Assist Teams. Essential to improving Afghan National Security Forces' capabilities and helping them secure their country, these teams are made up of trained officers and noncommissioned officers who will advise, assist, and enable Afghan security forces.
"This brigade is one of the very first to deploy to Afghanistan in a formation that is specifically tailored to conduct security force assistance, a key activity to support transition to overall security responsibility to Afghan Forces," stated Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division. "This is a vital effort the brigade will shape and execute."
Standing in the brisk morning air, many Soldiers showcased deployment patches on their right arm. This not only displayed their combat experience but also the sacrifice they made in leaving family and friends behind to support the overseas missions.
"You are embarking on what is perhaps your second, third or even fourth deployment or more. You are the best our country has to offer and we owe you respect and admiration for your steadfast loyalty and devotion to duty," Ierardi added.
The "Long Knife" Brigade will uncase their colors during a transfer of authority ceremony in Afghanistan. During the TOA ceremony, the unit will assume the mission from 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division in Laghman and Kapisa Provinces.
With only portions of the brigade deploying, the Soldiers staying behind will continue to train and prepare for future missions.
As the ceremony came to an end, Benson gave everyone something to look forward to in the upcoming year.
"In closing, I would like to thank all of you for coming today. And this may seem a bit premature but I would like you all to reserve a date for another ceremony, a little over nine months from now right here on Cooper Field, a ceremony with a lighter purpose--to welcome the Long Knife Brigade back home," Benson stated.