FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Col. Kurt J. Ryan relinquished command of 10th Sustainment Brigade to Col. Willie Rios III during a ceremony Dec. 12 at Magrath Sports Complex.

Soldiers, Family and friends of the Muleskinner Brigade gathered to witness the passing of the unit colors from one great leader to another.

"Today we pay special witness to a very special brigade as we pass the colors between two commanders -- a brigade filled with ranks of phenomenally gifted sustainers and maneuver-enhanced warriors," Ryan said.

Ryan commanded the Muleskinner Brigade for approximately three years. During that time, more than 9,000 Soldiers have been a part of the Muleskinner team. He built one of the most physically fit sustainment brigades in the Army and tested them during six rigorous physical fitness events -- Muleskinner challenges that hardened the Soldiers' mettle and focused on the division's mountain heritage.

Sustainers trained not only at Fort Drum but in places like Fort Lee, Va.; Fort Pickett, Va., and Fort Hood, Texas, to ensure the unit was expeditionary and prepared for combat -- a vision Ryan had upon taking command of the brigade in 2009.

The world-class training paid off as Muleskinners drove more than 250 million miles and conducted more than 5,000 logistics missions during their most recent deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Most Muleskinners recently returned from Afghanistan, but the sun seldom sets for the great sustainment team. Although the brigade accomplished feats some might classify as just short of incredible, Ryan understands that there are still Soldiers in harm's way and the mission continues.

Ryan thanked Soldiers, leaders, Fort Drum and surrounding communities for their tremendous support and provided a heartfelt thank-you to his wife Jennifer and daughter Madison as well as his battle buddy, Command Sgt. Maj. Jose A. Castillo, 10th Sustainment Brigade senior enlisted adviser, describing him as the best sustainment NCO in our Army.

"We will continue the Muleskinner Brigade legacy by ensuring the readiness of the unit is never compromised and that we remain ready when called upon to answer any mission in support of this great nation," Castillo said. "Go hard."

Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, spoke about the history of 10th Sustainment Brigade, covering its multiple deployments including the most recent to Afghanistan. He commended the Soldiers and Families for their dedication to the unit and thanked Ryan for all of his hard work.

"For almost three years now, Kurt Ryan devoted all of his energy to the success of this brigade," he said.

Townsend highlighted the community's support for the brigade and the lasting impression Ryan will leave on the division.

"It shows the impact that an effective leader, a commander, can have on other leaders, Soldiers and Families," he added. "Mission accomplished."

Rios comes to Fort Drum after serving as chief of staff for 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. He then deployed, where he served as assistant chief of staff for the J-3 for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.

The new commander expressed his gratitude to Soldiers, Families and community leaders for attending the event.

"Following in `Kurt's footsteps will be a hard act to follow, but rest assured that we are up to the challenge and I look forward to the many opportunities and missions that this brigade will encounter," he said.

In his next assignment, Ryan will move to the Pentagon to be the military attaché for the Honorable Alan F. Estevez, assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness.