The entire 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is settling back at Fort Hood after its headquarters and last two deployed battalions returned following a security force assistance mission in Afghanistan. The brigade will inactivate within the next year, after soldiers conduct reintegration training beginning this week, said Col. William Benson, brigade commander.
“Then we will get back and do what we do in the Army,” Benson said. “(Until) we deactivate — and that date isn’t official — we still have to account for equipment and do maintenance and get back after (physical training) and do soldier business, and that’s what we’ll get back to as soon as we get off from leave.”
About 165 soldiers in the brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment and about 115 soldiers in the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, returned July 30. More than 300 soldiers in 27th Brigade Support Battalion and 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment returned late Thursday along with the brigade’s headquarters.
With the entire brigade home from its nine-month deployment at Regional Command East, “Long Knife” uncased its colors Thursday at Cooper Field, symbolizing the end of the tour.
“It’s great to be back, personally, but to know that the whole team’s back now and everybody is back safe is even more meaningful,” Benson said.
Afghanistan is better because of his soldiers’ efforts, he said.
“It was a real different mission. It was the first time that they deployed, for some of these kids, that they had to let the Afghans actually do most of the work. And that’s not always easy for us to do. They go through a lot of training and they want to get out and accomplish the mission ... to the standards that they’ve been trained to do,” Benson said. “Allowing the Afghan army and the Afghan police to take the lead is sometimes the most difficult thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do to get them in a position to be in charge of their own security. ... That’s something I’m proud of them for doing.”
Back at Fort Hood, the unit will continue its operations until it inactivates.
In June, Fort Hood announced the brigade, along with other unannounced units, will inactivate as part of the cut to reduce the Army’s active-duty troop strength from 570,000 to 490,000 — a 14 percent reduction.
Despite the brigade having about 3,700 soldiers, the net loss of positions to Fort Hood will be 2,900, said Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, senior post commander and 1st Cavalry Division commander, after the announcement. Many positions will be reinvested into the division’s other three brigade combat teams.
The downsizing is part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which states the Army needs to shed 80,000 soldiers by 2017.
By that deadline, Fort Hood will have four brigade combat teams — 1st Cavalry’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd brigades and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment — the highest of any Army installation.
“I’ve been in the Army long enough to see units come and go and five (or) 10 years from now, it’ll all change again and 4th Brigade may come back,” Benson said. “The Army’s really not about organization, it’s about people. It’s about relationships that you build. It’s about leadership. That’s what this brigade’s all about.”
Rose L. Thayer contributed to this report.