Carson troops getting ready to saddle up again

By Erin Prater Published: October 4, 2013 | 7:51 am 0

Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team cased their unit's colors Friday in a symbolic ceremony signaling their impending departure for Kuwait.

In the coming weeks, the soldiers will depart for a nine-month tour, said Lt. Col. Andrew Koloski, commander of troops for the warhorse brigade.

Koloski, citing operational security concerns, declined to say how many troops are deploying.

Once in theater, the brigade's colors will be uncased.

Soldiers of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team will replace soldiers of Fort Carson's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, who will return in waves throughout October.

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team last redeployed in May 2012 after a year in Afghanistan.

Friday's ceremony, which took place on Fort Carson's Founders Field, was attended by 300 soldiers, family members and dignitaries.

In the 12 years since Sept. 11, 2001, the battalion's soldiers have deployed three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, said Col. Omar Jones IV, brigade commander, in his remarks during the ceremony.

They've proven themselves during fierce fighting in Taji and Baghdad, Iraq, and Kandahar, Afghanistan, he said.

"Now it's our turn," Jones said. "The nation calls again - this time to a different fight, a fight vitally important to national security."

During their time in Kuwait, the brigade's troops will respond to crises across the region, ensure the security of American personnel in three countries, partner with the armies of various countries for training and serve as a deterrent to would-be aggressors, he said.

The deployment "blazes a path" for the Army as troops exit Afghanistan and prepare for deployments similar to the one warhorse brigade will embark on, he added.

In February and March, the brigade's soldiers spent several weeks training at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site near Trinidad. They also spent a month training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., this summer.

"They're the best-trained in the Army," Jones said.

After the ceremony, family members and friends were invited onto the field, where troops remained in formation.

Sgt. 1st Class Lucas Smith posed for a picture with his parents, Joseph and Cathy Smith, and wife, Maja Smith.

Friday's casing ceremony was the first that the Army mechanic's parents had been able to attend.

Cathy Smith said she enjoyed an overwhelming feeling of pride during the ceremony.

Then the word "deployment" was uttered, and sadness set in.

"But when they come home, it's even better. There will be a homecoming ceremony," she added.

That the deployment is to Kuwait and not a war zone is comforting to Joseph Smith.

Not so much for his wife.

"A mom's a mom," Cathy Smith said as she fought back tears.

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