Army’s ‘Spartan’ brigade gets a new leader

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 13:34
  • Col. Paul Larson, left, takes the colors from Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, Commanding General of U.S. Army Alaska, during a change of command ceremony for the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division on Friday, March 24, 2017 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. During the ceremony, Col. Paul Larson took command from Col. Scott Green, who had led the brigade since 2014. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Col. Paul Larson speaks during a change of command ceremony for the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division on Friday, March 24, 2017 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. During the ceremony, Larson took command from Col. Scott Green, who had led the brigade since 2014. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Col. Scott Green speaks during a change of command ceremony for the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division on Friday, March 24, 2017 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. During the ceremony, Col. Paul Larson took command from Green, who had led the brigade since 2014. Though leaving the 4/25, Green isn’t leaving base — his next assignment is as Chief of Staff for U.S. Army Alaska. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, Commanding General of U.S. Army Alaska, speaks with Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz during a change of command ceremony for the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division on Friday, March 24, 2017 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. During the ceremony, Col. Paul Larson took command from Col. Scott Green, who had led the brigade since 2014. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Paratroopers with the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division salute during a change of command ceremony Friday, March 24, 2017 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. Col. Paul Larson took command from Col. Scott Green, who had led the brigade since 2014. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Paratroopers with the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division stand at attention during a change of command ceremony Friday, March 24, 2017 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Fit and ready for action, the Army’s only airborne brigade in the Pacific now has a new leader.

Col. Paul Larson assumed command of the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division during a ceremony Friday, March 24 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. Larson takes over from Col. Scott Green, who was credited with making a number of improvements to the brigade’s fitness during his 28-month stint leading the “Spartan” brigade.

“His troopers are eating healthier than ever,” said Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, commander of U.S. Army Alaska.

Owens said Green also supervised upgrades at the Buckner Fitness Center that he said make the facility “world class.”

Green isn’t going far — he’ll move “about 600 meters” to become chief of staff for U.S. Army Alaska. But he will be leaving the roughly 3,500-strong brigade of paratroopers trained to deploy at a moment’s notice to some of the harshest and most dangerous parts of the world.

“I’ll never forget you,” Col. Green said during his sometimes emotional remarks. “I’m not going far but I’ll always be a Spartan at heart.”

Green thanked his fellow staff members, his superiors and the soldiers of the 4/25, who he called “the American badasses known as the Spartan brigade.” He also thanked his wife and three daughters, who he called “my four ladies.”

“I love you so very much,” he said.

In Col. Larson, Green said he thinks the 4/25 is getting an exceptional leader.

“My joy comes in knowing the brigade is in good hands,” he said.

Larson kept his remarks brief, thanking Col. Green and saying he’s excited for the challenges ahead for the brigade.

“Arctic Tough, Sparta Lives!” he said, before leading the soldiers and guests in a rendition of the “United States Army Alaska March” and “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”

After the ceremony, which was attended by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkoitz and state Rep. Lora Reinbold, both the outgoing and incoming leaders of the brigade stood to receive hugs and well wishes from family members and fellow soldiers.

In an interview after the ceremony, Larson said the biggest challenge will be preparing the brigade for a likely deployment. Although the Army hasn’t yet announced where the brigade will go, the brigade will head to Fort Polk, Louisiana for training from June 4-30.

After that, it’s up the Army.

“We could go to the Arctic or we could go to Australia,” Larson said.

Among the challenges of any deployment, he said, are making sure the needs of family members in Alaska are met.

“We have to be sure the families are taken care of,” he said.

Larson recently returned from Afghanistan, where he commanded 2nd Battalion, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division. He has deployed six times to Iraq or Afghanistan, and said he’s confident the 4/25 is prepared for anything.

“The brigade is ready,” he said.

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