March 10, 2011

Lynchburg-based battalion changes command

By Maj. Nevin Blankenship
116th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

LYNCHBURG, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team conducted a change of command ceremony March 6, 2011 at the Schilling Center on the campus of Liberty University.  During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Allan Carter assumed command of the battalion from Lt. Col. E. Scott Smith.

 

Lt. Col. Allan Carter receives the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment unit colors from Col. Blake Ortner, commander of the 116th Brigade Combat Team, signifying his assumption of command of the Lynchburg-based infantry battalion.  During the change of command ceremony held March 6, 2011 at the Schilling Center on the campus of Liberty University, Carter assumed command of the battalion from Lt. Col. E. Scott Smith. Carter, a native of Lynchburg, most recently served as the brigade operations officer for the Staunton-based 116th Brigade Combat Team. Smith has been selected to attend the resident U. S. Army War College and will serve in the 116th Brigade Combat Team headquarters while he awaits his yearlong course to start in July. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Va. Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

Carter, a native of Lynchburg, most recently served as the brigade operations officer for the Staunton-based 116th Brigade Combat Team. Smith has been selected to attend the resident U. S. Army War College and will serve in the 116th Brigade Combat Team headquarters while he awaits his yearlong course to start in July.

“The highlight of my career is to say that I am the commander of the first battalion,” said Carter.

Carter was commissioned in 1991 from ROTC after graduating from Lynchburg College. He served as rifle platoon leader, mortar platoon leader and company executive officer and commanded three companies in the first battalion: Company A, Company B and the Headquarters Company. At the battalion level, he served as the personnel officer and assistant operations officer before transferring to the 116th Brigade Combat team and served as the assistant brigade personnel officer before the brigade’s deployment to Iraq. During the deployment, he served as the deputy chief of staff for the Joint Area Support Group-Central, Baghdad.

Smith is a graduate of the United State Military Academy and served on active duty prior to joining the Virginia National Guard. While on active duty, he served in the 10th Mountain Division as an infantry platoon leader, anti-tank platoon leader and battalion personnel officer. He was later assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division where he served as a brigade training officer, brigade personnel officer and mechanized infantry company commander. His last active duty assignment was as an advisor to the Hawaii National Guard while assigned to the 196th Training Support Brigade. When he joined the Virginia National Guard, he served as the operations officer for the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team during the unit’s deployment to Afghanistan. After the deployment, he served as the battalion executive officer, and then was reassigned to be the executive officer for the Adjutant General of Virginia. He assumed command of the battalion in February 2008.

“These Soldiers have given me the most enjoyable and rewarding experience in my military career. The Soldiers challenged me every day to live up to their standards,” said Smith.

“My best wishes to the Soldiers of the battalion as you continue to demonstrate your professionalism and pride in your future, I will not forget you,” said Smith.

Approximately 400 Soldiers from the battalion returned to Virginia from federal active duty in August 2010, after serving in Iraq since March 2010. The Soldiers began their tour on federal active duty Jan. 5, 2010, after having just over 60 days notification about their deployment. The battalion operated out of Contingency Operating Base Adder in Southern Iraq with the mission of securing resupply convoys along the main supply routes in the central, southern and northern sectors of Iraq in order to prevent anti-Iraqi Forces from disrupting theater sustainment operations. Soldiers were organized into convoy escort teams operating Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, and the teams provided security for convoys that transported hundreds of personnel, supplies and equipment from different units in United States Forces-Iraq to other destinations such as combat outposts, convoy security centers and COBs throughout the country.

The battalion completed 278 convoy escort missions travelling more than 172,300 miles and transported in excess of 120 million gallons of fuel and 900 thousand short tons of supplies without any injuries. Convoy escort teams reacted to 22 enemy attacks from small arms fire, indirect fire and IED detonations.

“These Soldiers are some of the finest Soldiers in the brigade and I know they will never let us down,” said Col. Blake Ortner, 116th Brigade Combat Team Commander.

The 1st Battalion headquarters is in Lynchburg, and the Bedford and Farmville-based Company A and the Lexington and Clifton Forge-based Company B were officially mobilized for duty. Soldiers from the Christiansburg and Radford-based Company C and the Pulaski and Martinsville-based Company D also took part in the mobilization.

The battalion last mobilized for peacekeeping duty in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007. Many Soldiers in the battalion were previously mobilized for duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from November 2002 to September 2003 when the unit was designated 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment.

“First Battalion has consistently performed well and met every challenge they have been presented,” said Ortner.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion are no strangers to stepping up to answer the call of duty. Right after the unit's drill weekend in February 2008 welcoming Soldiers back from a year of duty in Kosovo, more than 100 Soldiers went on state active duty to assist with the firefighting efforts in Southwest Virginia. Soldiers from the battalion also geared up to provide support in anticipation of Tropical Storm Hanna in early September 2008. Approximately 250 Soldiers assisted the Secret Service with the operation of security checkpoints along the President Obama inauguration parade route.

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