FORT HOOD — Col. Leo Ruth bid farewell Thursday morning to the brigade he built from scratch.
As the first commander of the 22-month-old 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, he worked to activate the brigade and three of its five battalions. Ruth relinquished command of the “Warrior Diplomats” at the flagpole outside III Corps Headquarters.
“I viewed the building of the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade like building a house,” Ruth said. “The first two years in existence, I believe we were the contractors who were required to lay the foundation.
“Without a good foundation, a house will eventually collapse. So our first goal was to ensure the footer was solid so future individuals, future contractors, could come in and continue building on the house,” he said.
Since activating, the brigade trained and certified three battalions, sent Fort Hood’s 81st Civil Affairs Battalion to Afghanistan and sent soldiers to Jordan, Georgia and Macedonia.
The brigade is spread across the country with a battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Stewart, Ga., and by the end of this year, will have two more battalions activated — one at Fort Bliss and the other at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Brig. Gen. Joseph Martin, deputy commander for maneuver of the 1st Cavalry Division, oversaw the command change. He described Ruth as hand-picked to activate the 85th.
“From the beginning, Leo hit the ground running,” he said. “He masterfully engaged senior leadership throughout the Army ... and he did so to make sure they understood (the brigade’s) value to conventional forces.”
As Ruth departs for the Marine War College at Quantico, Va., Col. David P. Mauser will take command of the Warrior Diplomat Brigade.
He said he is excited to be the brigade’s second commander and his focus will be combat readiness.
“The house of the 85th stands on solid ground and there is little that’s beyond the ability of the 85th,” Mauser said. “This is due in no small part to Col. Ruth.”
Mauser was stationed at Fort Hood early in his Army career, as a platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division Support Command. His oldest daughter was born at the Great Place nearly 16 years ago. He came to Fort Hood from the Army War College and has served alongside Ruth for a decade.
Ruth said his work as the contractor is done and he leaves the brigade confident in the skills of Mauser.
“The new contractor is Col. Mauser, and I believe if there is anyone who can frame the organization ... it’s you, Dave,” Ruth said. “I know you will lead from the front.”