By Mollie Miller

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD The 4th Infantry Division will activate its new 4th Brigade Combat Team today, just one day after the Defense Department announced the division will be heading back to Iraq sometime after mid-2005.

During a ceremony to be held at Cameron Parade Field, Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, division commander, and Col. Michael Beech, 4th Brigade commander, will officially stand up the Armys newest brigade.

These are very exciting times for the 4th Brigade, said Beech during a Monday interview with the Herald. Things are getting better every single day.

The new brigade is one of 10 the Army is adding to increase total troop strength as it moves to a more modular, self-sufficient brigade design.

(The modular designs) are more responsive to regional commanders needs; better employ joint capabilities; reduce deployment time and fight as self-contained units in non-linear, non-contiguous battlespaces, the Army said in a statement released earlier this year.

Composed of both new units and units moved from other brigades within the division, the new 4th Brigade will be home to troops from 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor; 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry; 8th Squadron, 10th Cavalry; 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery; the 704th Support Battalion; and the brigades Special Troops Battalion.

Receiving about 100 troops each week, 4th Brigade is staffed to about 49 percent of the goal. Beech said he expects his brigade to be 90 percent full by the end of March.

Every day, a bus pulls up in front of my headquarters with new soldiers on it, Beech said. When these kids come off the bus, they are fresh, right out of advanced individual training and looking for good leadership to take charge of them and get them ready for the war fight.

Beech said he views all of these new soldiers as wonderful opportunities to start the brigade off right.

Normally, a leader comes into a new organization, and hes falling in on existing procedures, an existing level of training and things that are already established, Beech said. Here, the leaders get to do everything right the first time.

In addition to being a new organization, 4th Brigade will also be the divisions first experiment with life-cycle manning. Under life-cycle manning, every soldier will remain with the brigade for a three-year cycle.

With a regular unit, you have a constant flow of people in and people out (whereas) I am going to have these kids and their leaders for three years, he said. I have a tremendous opportunity from the time they step off the bus to make sure we are doing the training to standard and we are taking advantage of every opportunity we have.

Beech said he and his leaders will be working with the soldiers to get them trained and proficient for the day their nation calls.

Were not ready for combat today, but we will be, Beech said. We are going to write our own history, and it is going to be a great one.

The activation ceremony for the 4th Brigade begins at 9 a.m. today.

Contact Mollie Miller at

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