With a new leader atop Fort Carson's 1st Brigade Combat Team, the unit's soldiers are preparing to fight their second mock war in the California desert in six months.
Col. Monte Rone will lead the 4,500-soldier brigade back to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin after taking over from Col. Curtis Taylor last week. The unprecedented rapid return to Fort Irwin marks the return of the unit to its normal duties after spending the past year experimenting with new tactics and gear for an Army test.
"The Army keeps rolling along," said Rone, who served at Fort Carson more than a decade ago as a captain. "It's the next man up."
Rone takes over one of the most well-trained units in the Army.
Fort Carson boss Maj. Gen. Randy George praised the brigade's troops during the ceremony that put Rone in charge of the brigade.
"Your reputation as a professional, agile and lethal formation reaches throughout our Army," George said.
The brigade built that reputation through a year of training as the Army's prototype "reconnaissance and security brigade."
The experiment included augmenting the brigade with rocket artillery, tanks and helicopters to turn it into a modern-day cavalry regiment to scout out enemies and lock them in battle ahead of larger Army formations.
In July, 1st Brigade tested the theory at Fort Irwin in a mock war against the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and a detachment of Marines.
The results of the experiment are still being tabulated, but leaders so far have nothing but compliments for the brigade's troops.
"It has truly been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve as your commander," Taylor told the unit.
He's heading for a school in Norfolk, Va., before his next assignment.
Rone and his troops will head back to Fort Carson's training ranges, where they will practice using their eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles in a more traditional role.
They'll be back at the National Training Center in January for a rematch with the 11th Cavalry and without all the extra gear.
For Rone, a 22-year Army veteran, coming to Fort Carson is a long-awaited homecoming. Fifteen years ago, Rone served here with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
"For my family and I, Fort Carson is a special place," he said.
Even more special, he said, is coming to 1st Brigade.
"I am truly humbled, honored and excited to join your ranks," he told his new troops.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240