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Home | Tag Archives: 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team

Tag Archives: 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team

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

Fort Bliss’ Ready First Brigade Set for Challenges at NTC in California

Fort Bliss’ 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team is about to go through the Army’s toughest training challenge.

About 4,000 soldiers from the Ready First Brigade – as it is nicknamed – are heading off to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

The brigade’s advance parties have already left and the main body will be leaving in late September. The brigade will spend most of October at NTC – undergoing a month-long training rotation.

Once there, they will go through an elaborate war game and will be tested by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

The 11th ACR serves as the opposing force at NTC and tests visiting brigades 10 times a year. This unit is the Army equivalent of a scrimmage partner.

“We’re looking at NTC as another way to get better,” said Maj. Jim Trask, 1st Brigade’s executive officer.

When they finish, they will be ready to go anywhere in the world and do any mission the Army wants them to do, Trask said.

This will be Ready First’s fourth trip to one of the Army’s combat training centers in about three years.

4-17 Infantry
Regiment during Iron Focus 18.2. US Army photos by SGT Brian
Micheliche, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

The brigade went to NTC in June 2015 and October 2016 with a trip to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisana, sandwiched in between in January 2016.

That prepared the brigade to go on a deployment to Afghanistan from January 2017 to October of that year.

“The old adage is everyone tries to win,” said Trask, from Omaha, Nebraska. “But I think you don’t really win at NTC. It is more about learning, developing – what you have done well and what we need to improve on, areas we didn’t even think about.”

The brigade will basically go through a practice deployment – in which it moves its personnel and equipment about a thousand miles from Fort Bliss to California.

Once there, they will also be coached and mentored by a staff of observer-coach-trainers. They run and guide the exercise. They also serve as powerful role models. Collectively, the OCTs – as they are known in Army lingo – are experts in virtually every Army job.

Trask said the brigade headquarters will get plenty of practice at NTC – overseeing logistics and sustainment for the brigade’s battalions

16th Brigade Engineer
Battalion during Iron Focus 18.2. US Army photos by Staff Sergeant Kelsey Miller, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

and soldiers, coordinating artillery support, collecting and distributing intelligence and conducting mission command.

Of course, soldiers will get tested in almost every way – from having to deal with lack of sleep, to living in dirty, dusty conditions for a month to primarily eating Meals Ready to Eat or MREs.

“They will be living outside,” said Sgt. Maj. Cesar Sanchez, the brigade’s operations sergeant major. “They will be attacked daily and they will have to conduct nonstop operations. I think it will toughen them up.”

Ready First has been training for this rotation since January – when it went through testing for the difficult-to-earn Expert Infantryman Badge.

Soldiers then went through a traditional gated train-up culminating with the battalion-level Ready Focus and brigade-level Iron Focus, both at the vast Fort Bliss training area.

Sanchez agreed that the upcoming rotation is a powerful way for the brigade to see where it needs to improve and stress and test all its systems and procedures.

2-3 Field Artillery
Regiment during Ready Focus. US Army photos by Staff Sergeant Kelsey Miller, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

“They will be able to see what their shortcomings are, so they can get better at the end of it and refine all their systems,” said Sanchez, who is from Fresno, California.

Sanchez said it is a powerful way to make sure everyone in the brigade is as prepared as possible for whatever mission lies ahead.

“Next time, you can put this in your kit bag so you can be even better,” Sanchez said.

Maj. Patrick O’Rourke, the brigade’s operations officer, said the brigade should view its recent deployment and previous trips to the Army’s combat training centers as a badge of pride instead of an excuse or crutch.

“It is beneficial to us, that our organization has been forged by these events,” said O’Rourke, from Niceville, Florida, “It allows us to be better prepared, instead of saying we are worn down.”

“We can use them as a means of saying we are stronger than other organizations,” O’Rourke said.


By David Burge – Special to the Herald-Post

David Burge is a news producer with ABC-7 in El Paso. He has also worked at newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas. Covering the military is a particular passion.

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