Support our mission
Col. Michael Feil accepts the unit’s colors, officially activating the unit at Camp Casey.

Col. Michael Feil accepts the unit’s colors, officially activating the unit at Camp Casey. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Col. Michael Feil accepts the unit’s colors, officially activating the unit at Camp Casey.

Col. Michael Feil accepts the unit’s colors, officially activating the unit at Camp Casey. (Seth Robson / S&S)

1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team soldiers parade with unit colors at Camp Casey.

1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team soldiers parade with unit colors at Camp Casey. (Seth Robson / S&S)

Seated atop a Humvee, from left: the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s deputy commander, Lt. Col. Mark Bliese, and its commander, Col. Michael Feil, join the 2nd Infantry Division’s commander, Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins, to inspect soldiers at Camp Casey.

Seated atop a Humvee, from left: the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s deputy commander, Lt. Col. Mark Bliese, and its commander, Col. Michael Feil, join the 2nd Infantry Division’s commander, Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins, to inspect soldiers at Camp Casey. (Seth Robson / S&S)

CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Lightning and hail welcomed the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team when it was activated here Tuesday.

Several thousand soldiers from 1HBCT, the Iron Brigade, stood at attention on Indianhead Field while 2nd ID commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins and 1HBCT commander Col. Michael W. Feil inspected the ranks from a slow-moving Humvee.

There was a sense of déjà vu at the ceremony. Ten months ago, 2nd ID’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Strike Force) paraded in the same place for the last time before deploying to Iraq. The only difference this time was the color of the uniforms: green instead of desert tan.

“It makes me feel ready to put on my DCU (desert camouflage uniform),” said Sgt. Walter Dolan, 31, of Indianapolis.

Higgins reminded the troops that although their brigade is new, their mission is not.

“The modular force is designed to be rapidly deployable, but your mission remains to stay trained and ready to deter war on the Korean peninsula and be ready to fight tonight should deterrence fail,” he said.

Saying the brigade combat team is the Army’s most powerful, he called the 1HBCT activation “a signpost along the continuing journey to transform the U.S. Army.”

“We face an enemy without a country, without a conscience. One that seeks no armistice with the U.S. or the civilized world. Our Army must and will become much more than it is now. We will become more expeditionary — more joint — rapidly deployable.”

Iron Brigade soldiers have restationed units and equipment and received new units and equipment, he said.

“Tasks in future will be based on your new organization and capabilities. There is new training to be conducted and incredible opportunities for soldiers to be present at the very beginning of transformation,” he said.

As the hail began to fall, Feil said 1HBCT already had passed its first major test, before activation, when it took part in a brigade-level warfighter exercise.

“That demonstrated some of the early returns of this organization in more effective command and control, theater integration and reconnaissance with combat arms battalions,” he said. “The return for teamwork and performance is already being felt.”

He said the unit can be self-sufficient and conduct offensive, defensive, stability and support operations. He also said his infantry units no longer will train on their own before organizing with armor or artillery units.

Feil said 1HBCT’s two task forces — 1st Battalion, 72nd Armored Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment — “mean infantry has a permanent relationship with armor and artillery. Every time they [go] to the range they will go with other members of the brigade combat team.”

author picture
Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up