Soldiers with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, took part in the Ready First Conversion Ceremony as part of Ready First Week, at the Ready First Brigade Headquarters, Fort Bliss, Texas, June 20, 2019. Ready First Week is a 4-day long event to celebrate the 1/1 AD conversion from a Stryker to an armored brigade and meet Department of Defense’s call for more armor assets to defeat any near-peer adversary. (U.S. Army photo by: Spc. Christina Westover)

1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team Converts to Armored Brigade

After almost two decades of conducting counterinsurgency and stability operations, the Army is pivoting its strategic focus to countering the threat of near-peer adversaries.

Part of its strategy is to add more firepower and protection to its force with the addition of a 16th armored brigade combat team.

On June 20, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team (Ready First Brigade) of the 1st Armored Division conducted a ceremony at Fort Bliss, Texas to officially convert the brigade into the Army’s newest armored brigade combat team.

Distinguished guests from the Fort Bliss and El Paso community watched two of the brigade’s infantry regiments convert into armor regiments. Guests also took part in a large social event for the brigade’s members and families, alumni of the new armor regiments, and members of the El Paso community.

Last September, the Army directed the Ready First Brigade, to convert to an armored brigade. Since then, the brigade turned in more than 300 Stryker vehicles and is expected to begin receiving Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin artillery systems, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) this summer.

“Today’s conversion ceremony represented a significant change for the 1st Armored Division as our 1st Brigade Combat Team will now be manned and equipped to accomplish Army-assigned missions which require armor assets,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Cobb, 1st Armored Division. “The soldier formation representing the newly minted 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team looked strong as ever standing and marching on the Ready First parade field as veterans and local community members witnessed this historic event. I am truly proud of our Ready First soldiers who represent America’s Tank Division.”

The focus of the conversion ceremony was to commemorate the approximately 80 years of brigade history while also celebrating this significant moment. The brigade commander, Col. Michael J. Trotter, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.

“Today is a celebration that’s important not just to the Ready First Combat Team, the 1st Armored Division, but perhaps more importantly, our Army and our nation,” Trotter said. “We are celebrating this conversion from a Stryker brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team but make no mistake about it, this is about enhancing our strategic readiness and our strategic lethality. We now stand on the cusp of 2020 and we face evolving threats to this great nation. As we have always done, we adapt to face those threats to our democracy no matter where they may come from. Today we face threats from near-peer adversaries that are more real today than at any time since the 1980s.”

In conjunction with the conversion of the brigade, 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment (Rifles) redesignated as 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment (Thunderbolts) and 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment (Buffaloes) redesignated as 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment (Iron Dukes). The historic 41st and 17th infantry regiments can both trace their lineage back to the Civil War, while the 37th and 70th armor regiments trace their origins back to the beginning of America’s tank force.

The brigade will participate in new equipment training, which will take approximately a year to fully develop its armor capabilities in preparation for future contingency missions.

The addition of a third armored brigade combat team marks the first time that all of the division’s maneuver brigades are armored-based since the division resided in Germany circa 2008. Having similar formations within the division greatly enhances efficiencies in personnel and equipment support across the division.

Fort Bliss was chosen as the site of the Army’s 16th armored brigade because it is the most efficient and effective installation based on a military value analysis (MVA) of such aspects as existing maneuver land, training facilities, deployment infrastructure, and quality of life for Soldiers and families.

Author: Maj. Brett Lea – 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division