Story and photo by Devin Fisher
The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Raiders return to the Mountain Post after spending the last 13 years at Fort Hood, Texas, is under way.
More than 500 of the 1st BCT, 4th ID, Soldiers are already settling in at Fort Carson as they prepare for the summer arrival of more than 1,600 Soldiers and their Families from Fort Hood. After the pending reassignment and separation of Soldiers following the unit’s mid-March return from its Iraq deployment, the Army Human Resources Command will “plus up” the unit to about 3,000 Soldiers, said Lt. Col. Greg Applegate, 1st BCT, 4th ID, provisional commander at Fort Carson.
“Building a (provisional) brigade is difficult at best and has a lot of challenges, but I think these guys are looking outside the box for solutions and making it happen,” Applegate said.
The goal, he said, is to make sure each of the 1st BCT, 4th ID, units are operational when the brigade and battalion commanders arrive. “They’re not going to have to build their organization, they’re going to fall in on an existing organization to continue the execution phase and plan for future operations.”
Accomplishing this task is going to take a lot of coordination with the brigade commander and staff at Fort Hood to plan and execute “our major muscle movements,” he said. The muscle movements include receiving equipment from Kuwait and Fort Hood, joint inventories, change of command ceremonies, and reception of Soldiers from Fort Hood, Applegate said. Bringing the 18 separate facilities online includes signing for and inventorying the facilities, purchasing the entire brigade’s supplies, and establishing the communications network, he said.
When the personnel movement is complete, about half of the 1st BCT, 4th ID, Soldiers at Fort Carson will be new to the unit, he said.
“I’m focused on the command climate, how we’re treating Soldiers, (ensuring we are) giving them some productive work, giving them an environment where they can get promoted and grow and want to come to work.” Applegate said.
He said the provisional brigade has received many brand new Soldiers; enlisted straight from advanced individual training and second lieutenants directly from the basic officer leader course.
Noting that he was currently short company and field grade officers, Applegate said he was relying on the experience of his seasoned veterans, the noncommissioned officers.
“Getting a lot of lieutenants would (normally) draw a lot of concern for me, but getting a lot of senior NCOs is making a huge difference,” he said. He noted the provisional brigade currently has three command sergeants major, nine first sergeants and quite a few sergeants first class.
“We are executing a non-standard mission (setting up the provisional brigade) and then they’ll go to their units and start training up for war as we typically do,” he said.
Currently, the 1st BCT (Provisional), 4th ID, at Fort Carson stood up the 1st Special Troops Battalion and the 4th Support Battalion as separate organizations. The 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, and the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, have been paired together and the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, and 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, are combined presently.
Applegate said all six battalions will be broken out into independent units by June.
“We’re kind of building as we go,” he said. “We started off with 20 people, a squad-sized element that we’re calling a brigade. Now that we’re actually getting people, we can start building that structure in place.”
He said it is important to make sure the brigade has the right command and control to take care of Soldiers and address any issues that arise.
“There’s the continuity piece where when a Soldier goes to another NCO, officer or unit, you have to integrate them into that (unit),” Applegate said. “You have to claim them, take care of them and make sure we are providing command and control.”
Aside from the supply support activity, all new brigade facilities are collocated near the intersection of Specker Avenue and Titus Boulevard. The 1st BCT, 4th ID, headquarters, building 2132 northeast of the intersection, will be home to the brigade and all six battalion headquarters staff. The brigade’s single Soldiers will reside in the four new barracks buildings located just east and southeast of the headquarters. The Raider dining facility, west of the barracks, is set to open in early September. The six battalion buildings are located cattycorner to the headquarters building, three heading south on Specker and three heading west on Titus.
Applegate, who will ultimately become the 4th BSB commander, expects to have all the battalion commanders on the ground at Fort Carson by the beginning of June to assist in the final preparations to receive the “big push” of Soldiers from Fort Hood. The battalion change of command ceremonies are set for June at Fort Hood with the 1st BCT, 4th ID,change of command June 18, also in Texas.
Following the restationing, the brigade is scheduled to begin its individual training – small arms and ranges – in early August as it moves closer to uncasing its colors, signifying the unit is operational at its new home.
Applegate noted that the re-stationing timelines “centered around the Families” to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond, 4th ID commander, “set specific guidelines (based on) when school ends at (Fort) Hood and begins at (Fort) Carson.”