News: Raider Brigade conducts Change of Responsibility during NTC rotation
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Lessmeister
FORT IRWIN, Calif. – On a sunny California day, soldiers paused their preparations for their rotation at the National Training Center, here, to say goodbye to one leader and to welcome another.
Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Balmforth relinquished his duties as the senior non-commissioned officer of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division “Raiders” to Command Sgt. Maj. Oscar Vinson during a Change of Responsibility ceremony June 3.
The unit is training at the National Training Center in preparation for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in late fall.
During the ceremony, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the color guard passed a traditional NCO sword made during the Civil War to Balmforth who inspected it then passed it to Col. Michael Getchell, the brigade commander, symbolizing Balmforth’s relief of responsibility. Getchell then passed the sword to Vinson, inducting him as the new brigade command sergeant major.
“Leadership is not about the individual, it is about the service,” said Balmforth during his farewell speech. “Every day I have come to work knowing what an honor and privilege I was given to serve you, along with Colonel Getchell, as the Raider Brigade’s command team.”
In his speech, Getchell credited Balmforth for helping make the brigade the strong formation it is today.
“For the past 18 months, Command Sergeant Major Balmforth’s leadership, his selfless service, his accountability to the nation, to the legacies of those Raiders who have come before him, and to every member of the Raider team of teams, was essential to moving this formation into a unit of choice,” said Getchell.
During his time as the Raider Brigade’s senior NCO, Soldiers in the brigade achieved several milestones. The brigade had both the I Corps paralegal of the year and career counselor of the year. Additionally, 402 soldiers earned their Expert Infantryman Badge during EIB testing and 22 soldiers earned their Expert Field Medical Badge. The unit also completed two rotations at the Yakima Training Center in Washington and participated in foreign training exercises including Exercise Tiger Balm in Singapore and Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia.
Vinson, the former command sergeant major of 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., plans on continuing the training that his predecessor set in motion as the brigade continues the path toward deployment to Afghanistan.
“I look forward to our hard, challenging, yet rewarding, days as we prepare for combat,” said Vinson.