Col. David Lesperance took over 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in the summer of 2012 expecting to deploy to Afghanistan, but was quickly rerouted to a new mission.
Instead, he prepared two of the “Greywolf” Brigade’s battalions to deploy to different sides of the globe — Egypt and Korea.
“I am absolutely most proud of our ability to be flexible and versatile based on a changing mission that happened fairly rapidly right after I took command,” he said during an interview Thursday before he relinquished command.
A rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., prepared the unit for success, he said. Greywolf was the first unit from Fort Hood and the third in the Army to complete a decisive action at the center.
“We had to refocus and learn tasks and skills we hadn’t done in almost eight years in the brigade,” Lesperance said. “It was quite a challenge to undertake, but most of that first six months in command and our ability to take a new mission and develop a plan and execute and create a brigade that was ready to provide the forces that combatant commanders in Korea and in (Central Command) (area of operations).”
Later in 2013, the brigade’s 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment deployed for nine months to the Multinational Force Observers peacekeeping mission in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. It was the first active-duty unit to pick up that rotation since the Reserve component took it over to allow the active Army to focus on Iraq and Afghanistan.
In January, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, was the first unit sent to improve combat readiness on the Korean peninsula.
Lesperance said thanks to that training rotation, preparing and sending these battalions was not challenging.
“Had we not had that rotation, I think we would have had some significant challenges had we had to do all that at home station,” he said. “It gave us such a strong basis to build from, and the ability to go literally east and west.”
Now, he said, that strong brigade that left California 17 months ago is in its fourth training window of conducting brigade combat team-level platform qualifications.
“With that type of repetition in two-year period ... all those things that had degraded over the previous 10 years, we know (soldiers) are developing a foundation set of experiences where we can capitalize ... and continue to raise that bar higher.”