The Bayonet

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013

197th Infantry Brigade bids farewell

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The 197th Infantry Brigade bid farewell to Fort Benning Thursday as it cased its colors during a ceremony at Doughboy Stadium.

The casing comes as part of the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s reorganization, and will help to align functional training and support for the Armor and Infantry Schools under the 316th Cavalry Brigade.

“The 197th Infantry Brigade over the last six months has had to be the bridge between the two schoolhouses and manage Infantry proponency, functional training and other support missions for the Maneuver Center of Excellence,” outgoing brigade commander Lt. Col. Joseph Pierce said. “I think as an organization we did all of those things well. In the true spirit of combined arms, we paved the way for the 316th Cavalry Brigade to serve as a true combined arms training brigade. That was really the goal of reorganization, and I think we’ve done it with excellence.”

While the brigade will no longer exist, the brigade’s Soldiers will continue to provide training for different units.

“I’ve personally talked to the gaining commanders for each of these units, and everyone of them has been impressed with the quality of the instructors and the quality of training that they’re receiving from the Soldiers who are coming to them,” Pierce said. “As the saying goes, ‘The Army goes rolling along,’ so the training will continue and it will continue to be first class and first rate.”

Pierce took time before the ceremony to speak to his former Soldiers, and said he thanked them for their service.

“I told them that it takes a special person to serve their country in a time of war, and they have done it with class and honor,” he said. “They have led hard, rigorous training for Infantrymen and touched over 44,000 Soldiers in the last year who have gone on to their duty stations and made an impact there. It’s just like a ripple effect. We’ve had an opportunity to touch a few Soldiers, and it just goes on and on.”

Pierce, who will deploy to Iraq in an advisory role for his next assignment, said he felt privileged to have commanded the 197th.

“It’s been a distinct honor and pleasure to serve the Soldiers of the 197th Infantry Brigade,” he said. “It’s a very historic brigade that’s been through combat and several reorganizations, and now we’re here at the casing ceremony. It’s kind of sad, but it’s good to see the opportunities evolve as the MCoE continues to focus on training, taking care of Soldiers and preparing them for the next combat.”

The 197th dates back to 1921, when the brigade was created in the Army Reserve as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 197th Infantry Brigade, assigned to the 99th Division, and organized in Pittsburgh.

It was first ordered into active military service in November 1942 and was reorganized at Camp van Dorn, Miss., as the 99th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, Mechanized. During this time, the unit participated in the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe campaigns during World War II.

After World War II, the brigade was inactivated in September 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, Mass.

The current form of the 197th was created in August 1962 at Fort Benning, and went on to serve as a training unit preparing Soldiers to fight in Vietnam.

During the Gulf War, the 197th Brigade was attached as the 3rd Brigade to the 24th Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

It took up a defensive position along the Kuwaiti border and waited for Iraq forces to enter Saudi Arabia. In November 1990, the brigade prepared for action to expel Iraqis from Kuwait as part of an Allied effort.

The 197th Brigade was the only brigade of the 24th Infantry Division to deploy during both Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After returning from the war, the 197th was inactivated in August 1991 and officially reactivated as the 3rd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division.

The 197th remained dormant until it was transferred to TRADOC in November 2006 and its headquarters reactivated here in July 2007.

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