New 1st BCT leader looks toward unit in peacetime

By Tom Roeder Published: December 22, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

Fort Carson's 1st Brigade Combat Team got a new boss this month with a mission unlike anything the brigade has seen in more than a decade.

The unit, just home from a nine-month deployment to Kuwait, isn't scheduled to go anywhere soon. With the Afghanistan War set to end by the end of 2014, the unit may have officially shifted into a peacetime role.

"The business of preparing for the next unforeseen contingency is our responsibility," said Col. David Hodne, the 1st Brigade's new commander. "That will give us plenty of focus."

The brigade has been in a cycle of deployments since it first headed to Iraq in 2003. The 3,800-soldier unit armed with M-1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles has been to Iraq three times and served a year in Afghanistan before the recent Kuwait duty.

Among the unit's wartime accomplishments: the capture of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Hodne said a key to the future of the brigade is developing young leaders who are surrounded by combat veterans.

Hodne's first order of business is a fairly light one: getting soldiers who spent most of 2013 overseas headed safely for vacation.

The colonel came to Fort Carson from Hawaii where he served with the 25th Infantry Division. Before that he commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Battalion during a tour in Afghanistan. He has earned the Bronze Star Medal three times.

Hodne replaces Col. Joel Tyler, who had led the brigade since 2011. Tyler led the unit in Kuwait, where soldiers supported training exercises around the region and a detachment of troops used drones to help patrol the Jordanian border at the height of Syria tensions. Tyler said the brigade's overseas work showed the Army's path.

Fort Carson's Brig. Gen. Michael Bills heaped praise on Tyler during a change of command ceremony. Tyler said his troops and his family earned the honors.

He pointed out his wife, Stacy. "If it weren't for you, I'd just be a middle-aged dude with a weird bird on my shirt," he said, referring to the eagle of his rank.

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