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6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

By August 2005, the decision had been made not to activate the additional brigade combat team at Fort Riley, Kansas as the 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Instead, the final brigade of the transforming 1st Infantry Division was activated in its place. The 4th Brigade Combat Team leveraged the work that had been done in preparation for the activation of the 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

As of 2004, the US Army was planning to active a 6th Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. As such, members of the Brigade would wear the "Tropic Lightning" shoulder patch of the 25th Infantry Division. The 1st Infantry Division was designated to return to Fort Riley from Germany in 2006. At that time, the 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division would become part of the 1st Infantry Division. As of late 2005, the actual designation had not been announced by the Department of the Army. When that redesignation occurs, the Brigade's members would switch to the "Big Red One" shoulder patch.

As of May 2005 the Army was looking for Fort Riley enlisted Soldiers to volunteers for the new 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, being stationed at America's Warfighting Center in Kansas. To volunteer, Soldiers had to not be filling a critical or shortage military occupational specialty in their current brigade or unit and had to not be scheduled for deployment. Soldiers would be stabilized for a period of 3 years beginning 16 January 2006.

Soldiers had to be fully eligible to re-enlist for the 3-year requirement if applicable. Time on station (24 months or less) waivers would be automatically approved by the Department of the Army. Soldiers returning from deployment could have their 90-day stabilization period waived by the first Lieutenant Colonel in their chain of command.

The arrival of the 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry at Fort Riley was to serve as a good test case to demonstrate the post's ability to accommodate more troops. Approximately 3,400 troops began arriving at Fort Riley over the 18 months prior to the Brigade's expected activation in the second quarter of FY06.

Inside the old 937th Engineer Group headquarters building on Custer Hill on 19 September 2005, the atmosphere resembled the beginning of morning physical training. Soldiers sweated and moved quickly in the heat, responded immediately to whatever new task was ordered and faced the end of the immediate mission with determination and purpose. It was not morning, however. It was the middle of the afternoon. It was not PT, either, although there was a lot of physical activity taking place.

The soldiers were putting together a new combat brigade at Fort Riley. They had little time to waste and expressed some hope the air conditioning would soon be fixed to cool things a bit inside. A few more than 120 Soldiers belong to the new brigade so far. They were trickling into the what was to be the 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division every day in "ones and twos, threes and fours," said Colonel Ricky D. Gibbs, the airborne infantry soldier commanding the new light infantry unit of action. Larger groups of new personnel would be arriving in the near future as the "Tropic Lightning's" new brigade grew toward its authorized strength of about 3,400, he said.

The brigade planned to officially "stand up" on 16 January 2006, but even then it would not have all its personnel assigned, Gibbs said. Soldiers would continue to join the Brigade into the summer of 2006, he said. "My Number 1 priority is ensuring that we receive and welcome Soldiers and families as they come into the Brigade and the Fort Riley area. I think the happiness of the Soldier and the family (is vital), getting the families settled, kids in school, Soldiers inprocessed," Gibbs said.

While the new Brigade staff worked on setting up its systems and tactical standard operating procedures from scratch, Directorate of Public Works arranged labor would "completely reset" each building the new brigade would occupy, Gibbs said. That meant extensive renovation, including structure upgrades and putting in new furniture, he added. "We want the Soldiers to feel good about where they go to work and where they live," Gibbs said.

The Brigade needed lots of equipment to fulfill its mission, but only a little of that had arrived. "We have about 16 lines of equipment...that are going to be in the Brigade. They're not 100 percent filled," he said. In fact, Gibbs said he had fewer than 10 "Humvees" now. A light infantry brigade, such as the planned 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, moved with "Humvees" and trucks, Gibbs said, so there would be no tracked vehicles in the Brigade. Other lines of equipment included such things as rifles, protective masks, etc. A "line of equipment" refers to one type of equipment issued to the Brigade.

Brigade staff members stepped lively in their efforts to organize the new unit of action from scratch even though people assigned to the "life-cycle" unit would generally be together for a fairly long time, at least the next 3 years.

The Army's strategy, Gibbs explained, was to stand up a lifecycle brigade and give it enough time to become proficient as a combat team. The 6th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division was going through the first phase of that life cycle, reset and train, he said. Training would begin after all the SOPs and tactical documents had been written.

"The first 2 weeks in November [2005] we will do what I call 'omega training.' The leaders will go to the field and work through the tactical SOPs to validate what we wrote and to work through them so we know them," Gibbs said. "It's training the trainers," he emphasized. The SOPs would cover everything from applying camouflage to a soldier's face to the markings that would be put on rucksacks, how to pack a rucksack and tactical maneuvers, Gibbs added.

After "omega training," the Brigade would train all its Soldiers and units to a level of competence that would put the Brigade in the second phase of the life cycle, or "ready" status, Gibbs went on. That status indicated the Brigade was capable of deploying to a combat area, he said, but, "it doesn't mean we will be called to deploy." The final year of the life cycle was generally the time a unit of action would deploy, Gibbs said. Again, that does not mean the Brigade would deploy. Deployment depended on the needs of the Army, he emphasized. Should the 6th Brigade Combat Team never deploy, the 3-year life cycle starts over with a new corps of leaders, Gibbs said.




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