FORT STEWART, Georgia — After a year of preparation, Fort Stewart commanders officially shuttered one of the three combat brigades stationed at the largest Army post east of the Mississippi River.
Soldiers from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team officially folded the unit's flag during a short ceremony Thursday. The brigade is among 11 across the U.S. that the Army is closing as it downsizes its ranks from 570,000 soldiers to 490,000 following the drawdown of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Today is not a bad thing or a sad day, although I'm afraid it's not a good day either," Col. Scott Jackson, the 2nd Brigade's commander, said during remarks to a crowded ballroom Thursday. "Today's a milestone in the evolution of this brigade, as change is necessary to keep up with the threats to our country."
The 2nd Brigade, part of the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division, was active for 97 years and saw action in conflicts from World War I to the most recent fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And its story isn't over. The Savannah Morning News reported (http://bit.ly/1DK0LCO) that this summer Fort Stewart commanders plan to re-flag the division's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which was formed in 2004, as the new 2nd Brigade.
The unit had a busy year working up to its final day. Jackson said his brigade's soldiers moved 52,000 pieces of equipment to other units across the Army since February while maintaining their war-fighting proficiency. Most of the brigade's 3,800 soldiers were able to transition to other units. Fort Stewart officials say the post will see a net loss of only about 900 troops, about half the number expected when the Army cuts were announced last year.
In October, 17 of the 31 company-sized units in the 2nd Brigade were moved under the command of Fort Stewart's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team as well as the 4th Brigade. The transfers included all of the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment and the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment.
In addition to its two combat brigades remaining at Fort Stewart, the 3rd Infantry will also maintain its 3rd Brigade stationed at Fort Benning in Columbus.
Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com
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