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Eastern Region deactivates; brigade structure complete

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Charlie Rodgers, back, and Joe Mike LaRue of Rodgers Sign Service in Elizabethtown remove the Eastern Region name from the sign of Seventh Brigade, which fell under the region. The brigade, which has been expanded and remains at Fort Knox, now is part of U.S. Army Cadet Command’s eight-brigade structure.

by Steve Arel
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Eastern Region might be gone from Fort Knox, but its deactivation last week signaled the beginning of an increased Reserve Officers’ Training Corps presence on post.

The region’s demise is part of a transformation by U.S. Army Cadet Command, culminating between fall 2010 and fall 2011 when the command relocates its headquarters and scores of positions to Fort Knox from Fort Monroe, Va. The move will compliment two brigades remaining at Fort Knox that had been under Eastern Region’s umbrella.

No jobs were lost as a result of the deactivation. Some employees who had been doubling as the staff for ROTC’s First Brigade now work solely for that brigade. Others are now part of Cadet Command’s forward operation.

In a ceremony May 28, more than 150 people gathered at the Patton Museum to see the region’s colors cased. The event also cased the colors of the region’s Third Brigade, which was based at Fort Belvoir, Va., a relinquishment of command by region and First Brigade Commander Col. Chuck Waggoner, as well as a retirement ceremony for Waggoner.

Eastern Region’s deactivation punctuates a structural overhaul set in motion two years ago by an Army mandate to bring it in line with other brigade-centric organizations. The transformation involved scrapping the Eastern and Western regions — Western Region at Fort Lewis, Wash., closed in April — and paring the number of brigades from 13 to eight.

The new-look brigades now cover larger geographic footprints and include 40 collegiate-based programs, a little more than double the previous load.

Transformation “is never easy,” said Maj. Gen. Arthur Bartell, Cadet Command commander. “And for a command as geographically dispersed as we are, it can be a real challenge.

“As those who lived through the planning phases of this new way of doing business in the Army ROTC community can attest, a multitude of important details had to be ironed out. But I’m pleased to report that … we have achieved success.”

Third Brigade became the last under Cadet Command’s former setup to fold. Programs in its control in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania were divided between brigades based at Fort Dix, N.J., and Fort Bragg, N.C.

Eastern Region commander Col. Chuck Waggoner, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Green, the region’s command sergeant major, fold the region colors before they are cased. A deactivation for the region was held May 28 at the Patton Museum.

Eastern Region commander Col. Chuck Waggoner, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Green, the region’s command sergeant major, fold the region colors before they are cased. A deactivation for the region was held May 28 at the Patton Museum.

Col. Perry Helton, the brigade’s last commander who is moving on to an assignment in Japan, applauded those with the brigade for ensuring a smooth transition. Their legacy, he said, will be the thousands of second lieutenants who commissioned through Third Brigade programs in recent years.

“For six years, Third Brigade served honorably and with great pride,” Helton said. “The dedicated cadre put their hearts into teaching, coaching and mentoring Cadets. The energy we brought to the fight every day was always focused on our No. 1 priority — the future leaders.”

Eastern Region and Third Brigade were established in 2003, the result of a previous Cadet Command restructuring. At its end, the region controlled 177 host programs and dozens of partner schools, the majority of which were in the eastern half of the country.

Eastern Region also conducted the Leader’s Training Course, the program that motivates and qualifies students for lateral entry into Senior ROTC as third-year Cadets. Responsibility for LTC now rests with First Brigade.

Waggoner, who is retiring after nearly 34 years of service, commanded the region for two years. He doubled as the LTC commander during the summer and spent the last year with additional duty leading First Brigade.

During his tenure, Waggoner sought to make the Leader’s Training Course more challenging for Cadets to better prepare them for future ROTC training and, ultimately, life as a Soldier. His plan incorporated several more sessions of intense physical training, leadership opportunities and increased stress that forced decision-making under pressure.

Col. Jay Dymek, who just completed an assignment as the professor of military science at the University of Virginia, is Waggoner’s interim replacement. Col. David Hubner assumes permanent command in July after his tour ends as commander of the 194th Armored Brigade at Knox.

Bartell said Waggoner positively impacted Cadet Command and all of the organizations in which he served.

“Chuck has had a remarkable career of service to the nation,” Bartell said. “To use a time-honored Army expression: Chuck certainly doesn’t need to back up to the pay line. He has met the greatest test of all, the test of performance.”

As he reflected on his career, Waggoner said he will remember many things about his service. What he’ll remember most is the strength of the fighting force he leaves.

“Today’s Army “is the undisputed, undefeated, heavyweight champion,” he said. “I couldn’t have said that when I joined.”

Making much of the difference has been a solid NCO corps that is given responsibilities and carries them out flawlessly.

“They take it, and run with it,” Waggoner said.

He also highlighted the uniqueness of service to the nation, pointing out that less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans ever wears a uniform of the armed forces.

“It’s growing smaller every day,” Waggoner said, adding that threats to the nation’s security will long exist. “Somebody has to stand in line to fight that threat. I’m proud to have spent some time standing in that line.”

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Written by CadetCommandPAO

June 3, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Posted in News

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